What should company executives be asking about 3D printing?

Multinational professional services firm Ernst & Young executive Channing Flynn examined the implications of 3D printing and rising interests of global corporation and conglomerates in an article published earlier this year in the Harvard Business Review. Flynn believes executives must analyze the opportunities 3D printing provides in optimizing inefficient operations.

organovo-3d-printerIn particular, Flynn’s analysis of 3D printing and its potential in a wide range of industries sets a focus on the adaptability and flexibility of the technology. As an executive of a multi-billion dollar firm and an expert in the field of taxes and payments, he perceives four main applications of 3D printing that could substantially reduce capital costs and human labor in most corporate operations:

  1. Distribution of Tangible Goods
  2. Online Purchases Printed at Will; Impact on ROI
  3. Cost of Traditional Manufacturing Process Overtake Value of 3D Printers
  4. Optimization of Operations

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How disruptive is 3D printing really?

The concept of disruption and its applicability has been widely discussed over the past year. Digital technologies such as 3D print and additive manufacturing have been labelled game changers and potential disruptors, also for the maritime industry. The technologies are not widely applied in maritime yet, but more and more companies are looking into the potential changes and development opportunities of the technologies, both in terms of manufacturing, but indeed also in terms of new business models.

On 26 October Swedish Maritime Technology Forum (SMTF) and Green Ship of the Future (GSF) have invited MAN Diesel & Turbo, GKN Aerospace, Hoedtke, Alfa Laval and OSK Shiptech to discuss the potential for added value if applying 3D print and/or AM in maritime.

Over the past 6 months, GSF and 20+ maritime companies have deep-dived into the opportunity space for 3D printing in maritime, guided and inspired by 3D print and disruption experts such as DareDisrupt, but also main industry players such as General Electric, Siemens, Airbus AP works etc.

This event marks the conclusion of the project, but also the start of a new process where focus will be on practical appliance of 3D print in maritime companies and further investigation of new business.

You can learn more about the event here.

UPS to expand 3D print services globally

Shipping giant UPS has been a strong proponent of 3D printing, establishing 3D print services at its UPS stores in the U.S. and at its Louisville, KY, hub. According to recent stories in Reuters and Fortune, the company’s planned expansion of print services into new global markets finds Big Brown in more of a defensive posture.

The company is doubling down on additive manufacturing, expanding its print services to Asia and Europe. With expanded service, the company will be able to print and deliver plastic parts around the world.

UPS and SAP are creating an integrated network to provide on-demand 3D printing services to manufacturers.According to Reuters, this expansion may be a way to help get in front of a potential decline in its parts storing and shipping operations – one caused by companies printing their own 3D parts. In 2015, the company reported $6 billion in forwarding and logistics revenue, roughly 10% of sales. It’s not clear how much its warehouse operations contribute to that total.

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Viewpoint: Catapult chief Dick Elsy on the government’s additive strategy

Leading figures from UK industry have joined forces with academia and government in the UK Additive Manufacturing Steering Group

Our world is evolving rapidly. A growing, longer-living population, a generation of digital toddlers, a changing climate and reducing natural resources are but a few examples of changes we face. Technology will be at the heart of our response. The speed and manner in which we develop new technologies to a position where industry can reap the full benefit of their potential will be critical to building a successful and balanced UK economy. It is also at the core of what the High Value Manufacturing Catapult is set up to do.

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Implications of 3D printing across the medtech value chain

Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, already has begun to revolutionize how medical devices and other medical products are made, distributed, sold, and used. By printing layers of material on top of one another using a variety of materials, 3D printing allows for the manufacture of products whose forms are more fluid or organic, and whose structural integrity is the same as or greater, than traditional manufactured products.

According to a 2014 PwC survey, one-third of all manufacturers are adopting 3D printing. The medical device industry is no exception. Already, 3D-printed medical products such as customized implants, prosthetics, casts, teeth, and hearing aids are under development or commercially available. The FDA has approved or cleared more than 85 devices made using 3D printers. Where and how is 3D printing changing the medical device industry, and what does the future hold?

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A roadmap to implementing 3D printing today

The way we do things in many industries is changing now perhaps more rapidly than ever before. Modern technologies are growing and evolving at exponential rates, carving new paths for start‑ups and disrupting blue chips. Technologies such as robotics, automation, drones, artificial intelligence, and 3D printing continue to reshape both company operations and customer expectations.

Now more than ever, organizations must innovate within their supply chains to remain competitive in a changing marketplace. This article outlines where 3D printing is in 2016, and how and why it should be implemented into the modern supply chain in order to develop and sustain competitive advantage.

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Will 3D printing facilitate urban industrial growth?

Dive Brief:

  • 3D printing may offer a new solution for manufacturers and retailers looking to deliver last-mile products more quickly and at lesser expense to the company, according to an article penned by real-estate firm CBRE.
  • The technology only accounts for 1% of all manufactured products in the U.S., but the global market for 3D printed goods is expected to grow to $21 billion by 2020, the firm reports. Hearing aids are an example of a successful, 3D printing based supply chain according to CBRE, as a Deloitte report estimates there were 15 million such products in circulation as of 2013.
  • The company estimates manufacturing firms in Manhattan, and other tightly packed urban zones can use the technology to their advantage as they will be able to move production to office spaces, which are more widely available than industrial zones.

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How 3D printing will shake up the supply chain

Consumers today are already familiar with personalizing their favorite treats by molding them into unique shapes or printing edible messages on cakes, chocolate and flowers, among others. What if you could customize any product in the future to suit your preference – from shoes to even houses? While some may perceive this to be a pipe dream, the fact is that this is actually a reality. New Balance just introduced 3D printed shoes last April, and in China, Huashang Tengda successfully built a two-storey house in just under two days!

3D printing is also known as additive manufacturing, a process that allows us to seemingly create objects such as bicycle frames and toys out of thin air. Manufacturing and supply chains have typically been all about assembly lines, warehousing and shifting products outwards from the point of manufacture. 3D printing is now revolutionizing the way products are manufactured and distributed.

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3D printing and the circular economy

The circular economy (CE) aims to radically improve resource efficiency by eliminating the concept of waste and leading to a shift away from the linear take-make-waste model. In a CE, resources are flowing in a circular manner either in a biocycle (biomass) or technocycle (inorganic materials). While early studies indicate that 3D printing (3DP) holds substantial promise for sustainability and the creation of a CE, there is no guarantee that it will do so. There is great uncertainty regarding whether the current trajectory of 3DP adoption is creating more circular material flows or if it is leading to an alternative scenario in which less eco-efficient localised production, demands for customised goods, and a higher rate of product obsolescence combine to bring about increased resource consumption. It is critical that CE principles are embedded into the new manufacturing system before the adoption of 3DP reaches a critical inflection point in which negative practices become entrenched. This paper, authored by both academic and industry experts, proposes a research agenda to determine enablers and barriers for 3DP to achieve a CE. We explore the two following overarching questions to discover what specific issues they entail: (1) How can a more distributed manufacturing system based on 3DP create a circular economy of closed-loop material flows? (2) What are the barriers to a circular 3D printing economy? We specifically examine six areas—design, supply chains, information flows, entrepreneurship, business models and education—with the aim of formulating a research agenda to enable 3DP to reach its full potential for a CE.

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Additive Manufacturing: New global standards introduced

In a progressive move for additive manufacturing, a new framework for industry standards has been announced. Two international standard-setting bodies, ISO and ASTA, jointly developed the Additive Manufacturing Standards Development Structure. The new framework received approval in July during a meeting in Tokyo, with the news filtering through recently that the guidelines have been set.


The implementation of these new technical standards represents a key turning point for the industry. As increasing numbers of businesses start to utilize 3d-printed components, having a technical framework in place is essential for the development of  additive manufacturing technology. Furthermore having this structure in place ensures companies won’t waste valuable resources such as time, wallowing in confusion about the best way to do something. Now, they can simply consult the new framework for the right answers.


As a result of this news, one might ponder whether a reduction in innovation is an inevitability. Companies can now consult the technical standards for every little issue. Previously unheard of developments often arise spontaneously when people try to solve problems.And this is true for every technology. But both ISO and ASTM made a joint effort to clarify this is not their intention.

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