That 3D printing is going to have a major impact on supply chains all over the world is one of the biggest positive consequences of this technology. Because products are locally printed and distributed, there will be non to low transport costs. Which leads to a low carbon footprint. Also, there will be a production philosophy pulled by end consumer demand combined with shorter lead times. Jones Lang LaSalle made an infographic that compares the traditional supply chain with a 3D printing supply chain.
Whilst modest at present, 3D printing has the potential to transform certain parts of manufacturing, and supply chains, over the longer term.
In addition, instead of taking place in bespoke factories, 3D printing will create demand for smaller and more standard premises, opening up opportunities for developers and investors.
A traditional supply chain:
- Products are mass produced (e,g. in China)
- Manufactured goods are ‘pushed out’ and distributed through warehouse network to customers
- Long lead time
- High transport costs
- Large carbon footprint
A 3D printing supply chain:
- Customised production
- ‘Pulled’ by end customer demand
- Locally printed and distributed
- Short lead time
- Low transport costs
- Low carbon footprint