3D printing has been used by the automotive and aerospace industries to build prototypes for some time now. However, over the last few years, 3D printing technologies have evolved at a rapid pace.
A new white paper by software solution provider AEB offers six theories on how this technology will affect society as a whole and logistics in particular. Titled 'Six theories about how 3D printing will change logistics', the white paper can be downloaded free of charge from AEB’s website.
While the market share of additive manufacturing (the official term for production based on 3D technology) will continue to grow in the coming years, it’s still unclear to what extent 3D printing is capable of outstripping traditional manufacturing processes or even replace them. Meanwhile, 3D desktop printers for home use have become so affordable that more and more consumers purchase such printers.
Hardly a month goes by without headlines about a new product manufactured using 3D technology. Nike for example recently launched the first athletic shoe including 3D-printed components. Manufacturers from all industry sectors are examining which items they may be able to produce using 3D print technology, and logistics service providers are launching pilot projects to identify the need, potential and options for adjusting their business models.
AEB’s white paper 'Six theories about how 3D printing will change logistics' explores the interdependencies and challenges resulting from the further advancement of 3D printing:
- Theory 1: 3D printing will offer opportunities for mass customisation and decentralised production
- Theory 2: Last-mile shipping will increase
- Theory 3: The market for 3D desktop printers will continue to grow
- Theory 4: 3D printing will make the world a little bit greener
- Theory 5: Replacement parts will be stored as data models in virtual warehouses and printed on demand
- Theory 6: Customs authorities will lose their oversight role
AEB’s white paper explains how 3D printing will change the production and shipping of goods, and details the advantages and disadvantages this may result in. It also summarises any outstanding issues.