UPS to launch 3D printing supply chain in the US
19 / 05 / 2016
3D printing supply chains are edging ever closer to the mainstream after UPS announced it would connect a network of printers across the US with its delivery network and an online order platform.
While there are many companies offering 3D printing services, UPS has now gone step further by announcing that it will connect a network of 60 3D printer locations and those of parts manufacturer Fast Radius, with its logistics operation via an online platform.
UPS has provided 3D printing service in some of its stores for a while, but this is the first time it has connected 3D printing, with its delivery operation and an online platform
UPS said manufacturers will be able to visit its Fast Radius website, place their 3D printing orders, which will be directed to the most relevant location, based on speed and location, where the product will be printed and shipped on the same day.
The express firm said the type of companies that will benefit from the network are manufacturers wanting to reduce inventory of parts that take time to be shipped, manufacturers with short production runs where the cost to create the mould or tooling is too much, manufacturers of custom/semi-custom goods, designers that want to quickly develop a prototype and entrepreneurs that don’t have access to 3D printers.
Supply chain software supplier SAP will provide the backend software part of the process that will allow customer to place orders online.
Forwarder Panalpina is also looking into 3D printing. In February, the Switzerland-based company and Cardiff Business School at Cardiff University are expanding their research partnership to include new manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing.
The aim is to help Panalpina’s customers identify the right products that could be switched from traditional to new, ‘additive manufacturing’ techniques which include 3D printing.
The use of 3D printers to create items such as car parts and other higher level goods are expected to increase as hurdles blocking their use are overcome. The current drawbacks include the cost of 3D printers, the speed of print, quality concerns and limited applications.