How does 3D printing affect the logistics industry?

Chris Lund

By Chris Lund Business Development at King Solutions

Will 3D printing eventually put an end to the supply chain? It’s a valid concern of logistics professionals, but it is inherently one that has already been proven false. Make no mistake, 3D printing will change the logistics industry, but it will hardly be the end of it.

One doesn’t have to delve that deep into the psychology of the average consumer to know that most people prefer to purchase finished products, rather than manufacturing products themselves. Yes, placing a 3D printer in every house in the country does give the average consumer the potential to be their own manufacturer of goods, but just as most people don’t grow their own produce or keep a host of chickens to lay eggs, it is unlikely that there will be an over abundance of goods being manufactured from within the homes of the average person.

3D Printing is already garnering attention in the industry

Just because consumers won’t become their own manufacturers doesn’t mean that 3D printing won’t simplify the supply chain. The mere prospect of the implementation of 3D printing has already caught the eyes of business owners. According to a survey conducted by DHL Supply Chain Matters, 22 percent of businesses were confident that 3D printing would be adopted in the next three years.

This is sizable chunk of businesses that have expressed intent to invest in the technology, and for good reason. An industry heavily reliant on 3D printing can shrink the supply chain to levels that businesses have never seen before. It essentially simplifies the supply chain process, boiling it down to a barebones version of its former self.

How is it simplified?

The logistics industry is always evolving, and 3D printing is another step in that evolutionary process. It’s all about simplification and speed. Companies want to get products into the hands of consumers in the fastest way possible; all the while keeping costs low.

3D printing can make both of those things possible by:

  1. Allowing warehouses to double as manufacturing plants – Because 3D printers can create products that are normally comprised of multiple components, the need for the old-fashioned assembly line will be diminished. This will allow local warehouses in each region to produce their own stock without having to wait for it to arrive from manufacturing sites, which can often be located overseas.
  1. Reducing the need for forecasting based on regions – Because companies can now manufacture products within local warehousing facilities, there will be no need to predict the number of sales in a region and create product based on those predictions. Products can instead be manufactured on an as needed basis for each region.
  1. Further contributing to the elimination of local stores – When combined with ecommerce, 3D printing is yet another strike against traditional brick-and-mortar stores. The need for physical shopping spaces is effectively being overtaken by consumer demand for tailored online shopping experiences. Computers are becoming the new storefront where items are designed and purchased by consumers then made to order and delivered directly by manufacturers.

Keeping up with the trend

At King Solutions, we follow the industry trends with a keen eye, and are always innovating our strategies to better serve our partners in the supply chain. If you are ready to simplify your supply chain, give us a call today.

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