Current Issues

Regular Industry Development Updates, Opinions and Talking Points relating to Manufacturing, the Supply Chain and Logistics.

6 overlooked benefits of 3D printing for your supply chain

26-Feb-2019
6 overlooked benefits of 3D printing for your supply chain
Year on year, 3D printing is becoming more capable. With the ability to meet the needs of applications more reliably and to create in-house end-use parts, this technology now has the opportunity to simplify the supply chain.

The benefits of doing this are so big that, according to a 2018 Gartner study, 38% of supply chain managers are already using 3D printing, and 47% plan to use it in the next two years. It is therefore important to question whether you too should be implementing this technology into your distribution networks.

But how can this be achieved and what benefits will 3D printing have on your supply chain? Ultimaker’s Senior Vice President of Product Management, Paul Heiden, explains the steps to take to enable an effective and productive supply chain whilst utilising 3D printing.

1 - Avoiding the negative effects of outsourcing
For decades, businesses have outsourced to companies using traditional manufacturing practices - it made financial sense to do so. But as international freight costs increase, and trade tariffs fill more headlines, global logistics is becoming riskier and more expensive.

Add to that the time required to negotiate with multiple suppliers, independent contractors, the challenge of communicating via different times zones, and different languages. More fragmented than ever, outsourced supply chains have begun to lose their lustre.

By contrast, 3D printing’s biggest advantage is that it is not an isolated manufacturing operation. It offers an end-to-end process that serves as a fully fledged production method. Best of all, it doesn’t follow the traditional supply chain method of plan, source, make, deliver, return. It means you can avoid the risk of forecasting demand. After all, if you guess the wrong answer to ‘how many products will I sell?’, that means reduced profitability.

2 - Sourcing simplified supply chains
From saving transport costs to freeing up storage and warehouse spaces, there are a huge number of hidden savings to be gained from supply chain simplification. Team this up with the ability to reduce the amount of money spent on production and the number of materials wasted, and it is evident that implementing 3D print technology is an effective way of running your supply chain.

3 - Make your value chain more agile
Traditional supply chains are not known for their responsiveness. By reducing the manufacturing duration and cutting out overseas transportation, 3D printing almost negates lead times. Depending on their complexity, most printed parts are produced in hours, not weeks. And production output can be easily scaled with multiple machines to meet demand.

By taking advantage of this infinitely flexible and highly responsive order fulfilment, your company will gain a competitive edge. And as you increasingly transform your supply chain to this modern pipeline, you will be able to take advantage of other efficiencies – like shorter product cycles.

4 - A unique product performance
3D printing offers substantial change and geometric freedom when it comes to manufacturing products. This technology allows more exotic and efficient geometries, which can also leverage generative design. And this technique uses AI to improve structural performance, save material use, and further shorten the design-to-manufacturing cycle.

5 - Creating competitive differentiation through on-demand
Consumers have increasing control over supply chains. As digitisation fuels the ‘demand economy’, 3D printing synergises perfectly with connected manufacturing. This on-demand part production provides the opportunity for greater levels of personalisation for finished or almost-finished goods. For example, clothes with personalised printed elements, or a smartphone case with a custom design.

And best of all, when it comes to slow-moving parts, 3D printing offers guaranteed product availability through on-demand manufacture. Essentially, 3D printers can replace your ‘just-in-time’ inventory.

Conclusion
As a recognisable technology, 3D printing will transform the way your supply chain operates. This technology will not only hold multiple benefits for the running of your logistics, but will improve customer satisfaction and loyalty. These factors are all extremely key to any business, offering opportunities that simply shouldn't be overlooked.

David Griffiths
Senior Product Marketing & Strategy Manager, Adjuno
Putting your brand in the hands of AI
Johannes Panzer
Head of Industry Strategy for Ecommerce, Descartes Systems UK
Is digitisation the key to preventing cross-border landed costs from disrupting international ecommerce?
Richard Seel
Managing Director Supply Chain & Logistics, Delaware
Meeting the Challenge of Supply Chain Efficiency – How Manufacturers Can Achieve their Goals
Olivier Binet
Managing Director International Markets, InPost
How to build sustainability into last mile deliveries
Ron Volpe
Global Vice President Apps Business Development, Tradeshift
Under-Pressure Retailers Turn to D2C to Level the Playing Field
Craig Summers
UK Managing Director, Manhattan Associates
Margin Erosion is turning the spotlight on the Warehouse
Simon Runc
Principal Visual Analyst, Atheon Analytics
Unlocking the Value in Data
Steve Purvis
Operations Director, Bis Henderson Space
Brexit Uncertainty Highlights Need for Flexible Logistics Strategy
Alan Gunner
Business Development Director, Adjuno
Starting at the source: achieving a sustainable supply chain
Craig Summers
UK Managing Director, Manhattan Associates
Conquering Connected Commerce
Mark Jolley
EMEA Manufacturing, Transport & Logistics Solutions Sales Lead, Zebra Technologies
Augmented Reality is becoming a Retail Reality
Craig Summers
UK Managing Director, Manhattan Associates
The Cost of Doing Nothing
Sam Ireland
International Marketing Manager, Loftware
Are You Navigating Global UDI Compliance?
Stephen Cameron
Business Development Director, SWRnewstar
How the Resource and Waste Strategy Can Empower Industry
Georgia Leybourne
Senior Director International Marketing, Manhattan Associates
Are we embracing the profit potential of the over 50s?
Jon Moody
Chief Executive Officer, SSG Insight
The Future of Supply Chain Management
David Luttenberger
Global Packaging Director, Mintel
Mintel announces top global packaging trends for 2019 and beyond
Andrew Tavener
Head of Marketing, Descartes UK
Compliance Management – it’s time for joined up thinking
Stephen Cameron
Business Development Director, SWRnewstar
Primark's move to 100 per cent sustainably sourced cotton should be commended
Marc Corriveau
Account Manager, Loftware
Changes in packaging result in ROI for F&B products
John Perry
Managing Director, SCALA
Why an extension is best for British businesses
David Jinks MILT
Head of Consumer Research, ParcelHero
Booking a courier? No printer required, says ParcelCompare
Graham Parker
CEO, Gravity Supply Chain Solutions
Mitigating The Risks Of Trade Wars And Tariffs
Sam Ireland
International Marketing Manager, Loftware
How Brexit Will Impact Supply Chain Labeling?
Sid Holian
Managing Director, Bis Henderson Consulting
Three critical steps to a hi-tech, agile supply chain
Manu Tyagi
Associate Partner, Retail and Consumer Goods, Infosys Consulting
M&S and Ocado have signed a £750 million deal to take M&S groceries into the home delivery market
Olivier Frère
Serialisaton Expert, Zetes
Understanding the Tobacco Products Directive
Dave Locke
EMEA Chief Technology Officer, WWT
Merged pharmaceutical firms seek fast-track route to savings
Johannes Panzer
Head of Industry Strategy for Ecommerce, Descartes
How to make international ecommerce transparent, efficient and cost-effective
Craig Summers
UK Managing Director, Manhattan Associates
Putting the WOW in the checkout experience
Richard Parfect
Fund Manager, Seneca Investment Managers
The cessation of Airbus A380 production
John Perry
Managing Director, SCALA
What next for British business?
Chris Jones
EVP Marketing & Services, Descartes
5 Key Logistics Trends and Technology Implications for 2019
Craig Summers
UK Managing Director, Manhattan Associates
What is the Checkout of the Future?
Andres Richter
CEO, Priority Software
UK Manufacturing: The Productivity Conundrum