How 3D Printing Changes the Supply Chain Today

3D technology has completely changed overseas printing forever. The technology continues to simplify manufacturing but what is the scope of 3D printing exactly? And what are its implications for the future supply chains? These are some of the things we will try to answer in this article.

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What is 3D printing?

Additive manufacturing (better known as 3D printing) is the process of reproducing 3D objects. The printer works by printing out digital renderings layer by layer. [Fun fact: 3D printing isn’t new. It was invented in the 1980s by Charles Hull and it was initially called sterolithoraphy. Its initial function was to create prototypes for testing.] It has a variety of materials and applications that can be beneficial for different industries.

 

What are the different materials?

Online printing companies can print with different materials. These range from plastics, metals, sands, and ceramics. This is why it is no surprise that there are so many industries that benefit from its immensely useful applications.

 

What are the industries that benefit from it?

The 2010s made it so much easier for individuals to grab a hold of the technology. Its accessibility brought about online printing services to pop up everywhere. It also made it much cheaper for different industries to modify it for their own fields.

Here are some of the industries that have successfully used 3D technology to their advantage:

  1. Automobile
  2. Industrial Machinery
  3. Consumer
  4. Academic
  5. Architectural
  6. Government – Military
  7. Medical – Dental

 

How will it affect the supply chain?

With all these industries that rely heavily on the supply chain, how will it affect their operations? The simple answer is that it shortens the supply chain considerably. Generally, a traditional supply chain entails five or six steps before it reaches the end consumers. The emergence of 3D technology has enabled manufacturers and online printing companies to cut back on unnecessary steps. This has proven to be very cost effective.

Instead of having a separate process for production and storage, 3D printing or manufacturing can be made on demand. This decreases warehouse and production costs significantly. 3D printing also lessens returns because of its on-demand model.

3D technology has also made notable innovations in logistics. With 3D printers being more accessible, parts that need to be shipped can just be printed across a different continent in a matter of minutes. Overseas printing reduces valuable time and logistical constraints often associated with manufacturing.

Online printing services are definitely evolving into something that is more accessible for industries and individuals who don’t have the time or budget to go through traditional methods. 3D printing has come a long way since the 1980s. We have come to the point where we can print organic materials for medical purposes. Only time will tell what different innovations we can achieve with this technology.

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