Tag Archives: Logistics

How will 3D printing alter the movement of freight?

Turning bits into atoms in real-time? It’s as profound as the idea of instantly sharing thoughts across the world would have been to a person just a few decades ago. So how close are we to the dreams of the 21st century, and what does 3D printing have to do with it?

Mercedes-Benz Trucks is printing 3D parts for some of its European distributors. 3D printing could alter supply chains as businesses would not need to ship inventory or components long distances.

The story begins with manufacturing. Layer-by-layer, additive manufacturing, colloquially still called 3D printing, is a disruptive form of manufacturing that is transforming—in the short term—the spare parts supply chain. Soon enough it will be much more. A San Francisco startup is printing houses—with better construction and for less money per square meter than standard construction today. And if you think it’s all just plastic, think again. They’re printing cars. They’ve been printing jet engines since early 2015.

Around the globe, people are using 3D printing to create all manner of things, even 3D printing food. Instead of carrying slow moving parts across a network of warehouses, these warehouses will just manufacture the parts as needed. 3D printing offers many advantages over traditional manufacturing, like the ability to print hard-to-find machine parts on demand, or print shapes that aren’t found in traditional manufacturing processes.

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Agility and flexibility in the age of digital supply chains – Insights from the 2017 Supply Chain & Logistics EMEA summit & expo

Extract from the main article on the Insights from the 2017 Supply Chain & Logistics EMEA summit & expo:

Digital disruption upending the seaports: In quite a fascinating panel discussion with Jordi Torrent of the port of Barcelona and Matthijs van Doorn of the port of Rotterdam, they talked about how the seaport business is turning quite volatile. 3D printing is shifting manufacturing closer to the point of consumption. This will cut down the need to move components and/or finished product around the world. Jodi quoted a pwc study suggesting that 3D printing will result in 41% reduction in air traffic and 37% reduction in sea traffic. One advantage with 3D printing is that there will be more commodities and raw materials being shipped to the points of consumption and these commodities and raw materials cube better than finished products because of their shape. The discussion also included other trends contributing to increased volatility, such as the direct rail transportation from China to deep into Europe, and potential opening of the Arctic shipping way with the melting of polar ice.”

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Supply chain, logistics and inventory go 3D with additive manufacturing

Additive manufacturing — popularly known as 3D printing — has been touted as the next big thing in manufacturing, but its impact will soon be seen in supply chain management.

Additive manufacturing — the creation of product parts or components from a digital 3D model — has gotten a lot of attention lately, and rightly so: It’s one of those ideas that’s simultaneously wildly innovative, and yet glaringly obvious.

Indeed, with the benefits of additive manufacturing causing a stir in manufacturing, and, therefore, in supply chain management, 2017 is looking to be a breakout year for the technology.

No longer a clever parlor trick for creating action figures and novelty items, additive manufacturing is poised to take on a serious role as a manufacturing alternative worldwide. In 2015, the additive manufacturing industry grew to $5.165 billion, representing a growth of nearly 30%, according to “Wohlers Report 2016.

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3D printing the next five years by Simon Fried of Nano Dimension

This is a guest post in our series looking at the future of 3D Printing. To celebrate 5 years of reporting on the 3D printing industry, we’ve invited industry leaders and 3D printing experts to give us their perspective on the next 5 years of 3D printing.

Simon Fried is the Co-Founder and Chief Business Officer of Nano Dimension. With their innovative Dragonfly 2020 3D printer, Nano Dimension has introduced rapid prototyping of multi level, and multi-material, printed circuit boards on a desktop machine.

Industrialization of 3D Printing will be Hallmark of Next Half Decade
The next five years will be significant for 3D printing, in my opinion. Certainly, we’ll see growth in the consumer space as 3D printing options become increasingly affordable. But the more interesting trend is the growth in 3D printing for industry.

Industry adoption of additive manufacturing is clearly on the rise, with a broad range of businesses already dipping into the 3D waters. For instance, GE has acquired Arcam AB and SLM Solutions Group to help it gain competitiveness in the 3D manufacturing space; and Siemens, Ford and others are focusing on bringing 3D solutions into their factories.

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The implications of 3D printing on global logistics

Additive manufacturing or 3D printing has the potential to become the biggest single disruptive phenomenon to impact global industry since assembly lines were introduced to America in the early 20th Century. Any challenge to globalisation can be of huge disruption to the global transport industry yet the concept of 3D printing brings with it widespread opportunities for essential development in many fields worldwide.

The Implications of 3D Printing on Global LogisticsThe compelling logic surrounding 3D printing means products that once would be individually manufactured can be created via mass customization techniques, saving extensive amounts of time, wastage and cost. Products created in such a way will also be lighter but just as strong, if not stronger than being created by traditional methods.

3D printing essentially offers an enormous leap between one of cases of the manufacturing process and large scale manufacturing. Combining 3D printing with efficient manufacturing will revolutionize in response to changing customer demands and the entire nature of manufacturing is set to take on a dramatic change as 3D printing becomes more integrated across global society. As traditional models become overlooked the philosophy of manufacturing is also changing, with products being made specifically to suit precise customer desire.

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3D Printing is already starting to threaten the traditional spare parts supply chain

Making a step change in the management of spare parts is a significant benefit of 3D printing, promising to revolutionise logistics and supply chain networks.  Oliver Wyman sees this as already happening!


Freshly made 3D partsThe race is on to use 3D printing to produce small-series parts, on demand and on location, for industries from aerospace to automotive. At stake is the shape of a $400 billion market for spare parts manufacturing and logistics. And those changes are not 20, or even 10, years out — they are happening now.

Using models built through computer-aided design (CAD), 3D printing can produce virtually any solid object, even those with complex architectures, and in a range of materials, including plastic, ceramic, and metal. Currently, about half of 3D printing — also known as additive manufacturing — is used for prototyping. This saves manufacturers time and money, because they can develop new components or products on-demand, with less waste and without expensive tools and molds.

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How 3D printing can alter the supply chain

A good post from Clint Reiser.


I woke up on Sunday morning, made some coffee, and then logged on to Amazon.com and conveniently made a purchase from my couch. This simple set of two common daily tasks got me thinking about additive manufacturing (3D printing) and its potential to transform both current business models and their supply chains.

My colleague Steve Banker has written on Logistics Viewpoints about 3D printing, its use for additive manufacturing and potential impact on logistics, and ways in which it can be used in the spare parts warehouse. Also, my colleague Sal Spada is an expert on the technical aspects of additive manufacturing and its feasibility for the production of various parts. I am intrigued by the competitive advantages that the technology can provide, the potential business model/s surrounding its use, and how that will affect supply chains. In essence, the potential changes in the competitive space and in value chains from the use of the technology.

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Tips on improving warehouse productivity: Use 3D printing!

3-D printing technology, which allows on-demand production of various components for manufacturing at the location itself, can improve productivity by  eliminating the need for any transportation, thus reducing the cost and lead times significantly.

Tips on Improving Warehouse ProductivityManaging inventory effectively and maximizing warehouse productivity rank on top of the priority list of almost all warehouse managers, according to Procurious.com. 

Kevin Hill of Quality Scales Unlimited offers some tips on how to improve warehouse management.

Apply Cross-Docking to Maximize Space

The objective of cross-docking is to reduce the shelf storage time of stocks in the warehouse. It helps in transporting warehouse delivered goods quickly to the outbound carriers that can take the stocks to distribution centers. Make sure that the warehouse layout supports cross-docking.

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3D printing could help restore out-of-action US Marine Corps aircraft

Burdened with a number of obsolete and broken aircraft, the US Marine Corps (USMC) is turning to additive manufacturing technology to help restore its fleet, giving pilots a better opportunity to receive essential training. The USMC has already trialled a 3D printing scheme in one of its battalions.

Back in April, we heard news of a military 3D printing experiment being carried out by the Marines of 1st Maintenance Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 15, 1st Marine Logistics Group. The battalion had been given a number of on-loan 3D printers for a six-month period in order to print its own spare parts, with the USMC curious to see how the technology could be used to solve real-world defense problems. After seeing the 3D printers in action first-hand, ground radio repairman Cpl. Samuel Stonestreet commented that it was “very important for the Marine Corps and the Department of Defense as a whole to look into [3D printing] and see how we can implement it into missions.” Now, according to a report from Cpl. Jim Truxel (US Marine Corps 1977-1981) written for SAAB USA, the Marines could soon be heeding Cpl. Stonestreet’s advice as they look to take their additive exploits to the next level.

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3D Printing: viewing disruption through the right lenses

Your company may be looking at how you can leverage 3D printing. But are you viewing this disruptive technology through all the lenses you should be?

If you’re a manufacturer, you may be wondering which products you can produce through additive manufacturing, or which products your competitors are thinking about producing in this way.

If you’re not a manufacturer, you may be thinking that 3D printing doesn’t really apply to your business, except that some products you buy in the future will be produced on 3D printers.

But you might want to take a broader view of 3D printing. Because the true disruption of additive manufacturing won’t be in individual products or spare parts. Instead, it will be in business models and markets. Even if your company has nothing to do with manufacturing, 3D printing could affect you in profound ways.

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