Admittedly, 3D printing and additive manufacturing were hyped heavily in the earlier part of the decade. Today, there’s less talk of “printers on every desk” but a real understanding of the role it plays in manufacturing and associated industrial supply chains.
On episode 1 of The Future of Supply Chain, we sit down with our friend Alan Amling of UPS Ventures to discuss what’s happening in 3D printing, the relevance to industrial markets and supply chains, and how it will affect incumbent logistics providers. Below are key takeaways and quotes from the discussion.
The eCommerce and 3D printing comparison. eCommerce has been a disruptive force, even though it consumes only 10% of retail in the U.S. Similarly, 3D printing is also going to change supply chains and the relationship between manufacturers and logistics companies.
Consist process and quality. There are many people today who can print a prototype; however, there are very few people who can accomplish the process with maintaining high quality. If you cannot deliver consistent quality, then nothing else matters.
3D printing has gained traction in aerospace and healthcare. The need for unique medical products to be customized and produced in mass quantities, along with the design flexibility that aerospace requires are both seeing solutions in 3D printing.
3D printing may cause a shift more towards distributed manufacturing. It will be more efficient to manufacture lower quantities more often and closer to the point of consumption given that we will draw from a “digital inventory” vs a physical one. This will create positive economic and sustainability results. There is currently a lot of waste in manufacturing and the supply chain. 3D printing will create a tighter fit between supply and demand. As a result of distributed manufacturing, entities like UPS, who manages and operates a leading last mile network will see positive benefits if properly prepared.