How 3D Printing Is Transforming Supply Chains

13th October 2022

How 3D printing is transforming supply chains globally

With the supply chain industry continuously improving and technological advancements being made rapidly, 3D printing is now providing a multitude of sectors with solutions to help and improve their production efforts. With businesses also continuing to gain a greater understanding of the technology’s capabilities, they are now able to use it in a number of different scenarios.

Additive manufacturing is increasingly appreciated as a powerful force that is capable of sitting alongside traditional manufacturing methods and can be used throughout the value chain. Naturally, there are certain scenarios where the technology is likely to yield greater benefits than in others. Operations and logistics are two that are likely to see significant improvement with production and traditional supply chains being heavily impacted by the technology.

You can read more about how 3D printing is changing the face of supply chains and get a visual representation in our infographic below. 

Reduced Inventory & On-Demand Manufacturing

Businesses can look at transferring to on-demand manufacturing as this is likely to lead to cost savings by eliminating or severely reducing inventory requirements. Warehouse or storage space can likely be reduced because there will not be a need to carry or overstock on certain parts where forecasting is highly volatile or difficult to accurately achieve.

Combined with the function to store digital files, this will allow operators to quickly produce new iterations at reduced costs, as and when required.

Supplier Consolidation

When using a 3D-printing contractor, businesses will able to select one that offers them less risk, more control and added agility in relation to their product life cycle.

Experienced service bureaus can offer technical knowledge that businesses may not have internally, enabling them to suggest which manufacturing methods will work best for certain applications. When working with fewer suppliers, who will likely be offering local production and lower labour units, there will be no need to seek cheaper labour rates abroad. This also ties into the previous points on how businesses can reduce inventory and seek on-demand manufacturing.

Distributed Manufacturing

3D-printing technology facilitates the sharing of digital files easily and quickly between business and suppliers, with positive impacts on their supply chain. Businesses can also seek out local suppliers who offer the service, which will help reduce transportation costs, production time and also have a beneficial impact on the environment.

The transformation of supply chains is a big opportunity for businesses to improve their time to market, reduce costs and bring production closer to the consumer, with no delays caused by waiting for in-demand suppliers to become available.

Another factor that could be beneficial is that it could help allow businesses utilise services that are readily available instead of having to wait for suppliers to become available if they are able to share files quickly and easily.

Increased Responsiveness

Businesses that embrace 3D printing and it’s tangible productivity gains are likely to gain an advantage over their competitors. With additive manufacturing, they are able to produce faster and so reduce lead times across their business.

Dramatic improvements are common with some organisations reporting being able to make parts within hours or days instead of weeks. Service bureaus allow for faster responsiveness, helping businesses to react effectively and rapidly to unique challenges.

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