Can you really print a three-dimensional doughnut?

The answer according to Ricoh’s European Additive Manufacturing Director, Greg Plowman, is yes! It perhaps sounds like pure science fiction, however, human ears, noses and skin are already printable, as are ultra-light and strong parts for aeroplanes.

Technology for difficult or expensive to get to locations can be supported, not in the traditional manner with a building full of expensive spare parts, but with a 3D printer and some stored designs.

The fashion industry is developing some interesting ideas too – take a look at this hi-tech spider dress. We are less than a decade away from seeing a printed heart.  If you consider for a moment what the high-speed internet has done to the virtual world in the last decade, 3D printing, which is also known as ‘additive manufacturing’ (AM), looks set to have a similar impact on the physical world.

Thanks to a link established by Royal Holloway MBA alumna Nitasha Chadha, who is now a Digital Marketing Executive at Ricoh UK, colleagues Mike Crawford, Ricoh’s Global Leader for the Higher Education Vertical, and Greg Plowman introduced the distance learning International Management students to the new world of opportunities that is being heralded by advances in 3D printing.

Working in small consultancy groups, students undertook their capstone learning project, a demanding challenge from the Ricoh team to consider how best to enter the higher education marketplace with the LeapFrog product.

At the end of a stimulating week, groups presented their business plan recommendations to Nitasha, Greg and Mike who were also joined by colleagues Toshi Yoshioka, Business Planning Manager, Business Development Group, Ricoh Europe, and Cahir O’Doherty, Head of Digital Marketing at Ricoh UK.

The collaboration was deemed a great success. Students really enjoyed the open space afforded by an exciting new technology.

As for Ricoh, Mike Crawford explained: “By introducing this business challenge to the distance learning MBA students of Royal Holloway, we have gained both the ‘student’ and ‘professional’ perspective, generating valuable ideas from students and faculty representing a wide range of cultures, industries, work and educational backgrounds.”

This was a view shared by Greg Plowman who added: “I think that posing a timely business challenge and opportunity to the students inspired them to go above and beyond in their research, analysis and recommendations. The end result was informed, high-quality ideas to help guide our business direction in the education market.”

As the MBA Director at Royal Holloway, I am delighted with the success of this initial collaboration with Ricoh. The business consultancy challenge was something the student groups really found inspiring and the quality of their presentations certainly reflected this.

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