Transforming the Future of Supply Chains Through Disruptive Innovation

By George Kokoris · November 8, 2011

Additive manufacturing (AM) is the umbrella term for technologies that fabricate products by building up thin layers of materials from three-dimensional, computer-aided designs. A subset of these technologies, 3D printing builds objects on machines that “print” successive layers of materials such as molten plastic.

3D printing has evolved rapidly over recent years. Now it is being used to create product prototypes and to manufacture certain specialized items. From a supply chain perspective, however, the most exciting applications are in finished product manufacturing, where the technology is slowly gaining ground.

If 3D printing becomes a common feature of large-scale manufacturing operations, the technology will have a huge impact on all phases of supply chain management. Companies will find it much easier and more cost-effective to make customized items in limited quantities. Global networks of 3D printing installations will give enterprises the ability to respond rapidly to shifts in market demand and to introduce new products quickly and inexpensively.


Subscribe to Logistics Management Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Latest Whitepaper
Reduce Order Processing Costs by 80%
Sales order automation software will seamlessly transform inbound emailed and printed purchase orders into electronic sales orders that can be automatically processed into your ERP system with 100% accuracy.
Download Today!
From the June 2016 Issue
In the wildly unstable ocean cargo carrier arena, three major consortia are fighting for market share, with some players simply hanging on for survival. Meanwhile, shippers may expect deployment shifts as a consequence of the Panama Canal expansion.
WMS Update: What do we need to run a WMS?
Supply Chain Software Convergence: Synchronization Realized
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Optimizing Global Transportation: How NVOCCs Can Use Technology to Operate More Profitably
Global transportation isn't getting any easier to manage, especially for non-vessel operating common carriers (NVOCCs). Faced with uncertainties like surcharges—but needing to remain competitive when bidding against other providers—NVOCCs need the right mix of historical data, data intelligence, and technology support to make quick and effective decisions. During this webcast you'll learn how Bolloré Transport & Logistics was able to streamline its global logistics and automate contract management.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
Details Key to Cross-border Ease
Ever-changing regulations are making it risky for U.S. companies engaged in cross-border trade...
Digital Reality Check
Just how close are we to the ideal digital supply network? Not as close as we might like to think....

Top 25 ports: West Coast continues to dominate
The Panama Canal expansion is set for late June and may soon be attracting more inbound vessel calls...
Port of Oakland launches smart phone apps for harbor truckers
Innovation uses Bluetooth, GPS to measure how long drivers wait for cargo