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BLOG: The future of printing

Zafar Anjum | Sept. 21, 2011
Not only is printing technology keeping pace with changing user behaviour, printing is also going into totally new, unimagined directions.

Printers remind me of books and books remind me of printers. And for a while, both seemed to be headed for oblivion.

I was afraid that printers were going to suffer the same fate as that of paper-based books in the digital age. I had this notion that printers would die a slow death. As we need them less and less in a paper-less, digital world, they will slowly fade away.

But not so fast.

I recently attended the HP Imaging and Printing Conference in Shanghai, and I must admit, I see the future of printing differently now. Printing and printers are not going to die. Just as books are not going to die!

Relevance of printers

Printers are still relevant in our lives and printing technology is keeping pace with breakthrough technologies. Take the case of HP's Imaging and Printing group. The US$26 billion group is doing well (it has sold 10 million printers globally!) because it is in-step with the emerging technologies, the changing lifestyle of the users and the complex devices ecosystem: HP is already using the cloud and wireless printing and printing apps for devices like smartphones to enable pain-free, anywhere printing. HP was the first in the industry to introduce mobile printing solutions such as HP ePrint, AirPrint and Google Cloud Print. HP has already more than 100 apps for Asia Pacific, with a quarter of them offering local content.

HP's enthusiasm for investing in the printing technology is not without reasons. According to a new study, businesses aren't rushing to create paperless offices; in fact, some are relying on paper documents more than ever: "The computer industry trade association's (CompTIA) survey of 400 IT and business executives on the use of printers found that most companies expect to maintain or increase paper usage over the next two years. The survey found that 38 percent of the companies are printing more paper documents than two years ago, and another eight percent said they are doing significantly more printing."

New directions

Not only is printing technology keeping pace with our changing needs, printing is also going into totally new directions. Like printing medicines. Like printing food.

This sounds so futuristic but the future of printing is already here.

At the Shanghai conference, HP showcased the world's first 3D printer, HP Topshot. This printer (using a new scanning technology) captures six images of a document or 3D object and combines them to create one high-quality image suitable for print or Web. This printer (HP TopShot Laserjet Pro M275) will soon be available in the market for US$349. Imagine the use of this printer for design folks or for those who want to sell their stuff on eBay!


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