3D printing: Potential to shrink the supply chain

Consider a homeowner who needs a spare part for a dishwasher: he orders the part online from the manufacturer, then receives a bar code he uses to get the part printed at a local 3DP center, perhaps at a big-box retailer. This and other scenarios could alter supply chains as we know them.

  • According to PwC’s survey, about 30% of manufacturers believe that, potentially, the greatest disruption to emerge from widespread adoption of 3DP will be the restructuring of supply chains.
  • 3DP also holds the potential for companies to rethink their approach to keeping inventory, especially low-volume, obsolete parts, that still need to be made available to customers. Printed parts that are currently warehoused could potentially save manufacturers—especially those with globally diverse distribution systems—logistics costs and get products to customers faster.
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