CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
October 19, 2018
Forward Thinking

Research: 3-D printing looms large over logistics

Forward Thinking
Logistics service providers differ in their predictions of how three-dimensional printing could affect their industry.

A majority of logistics service providers that participated in a survey conducted by the research and events firm eyefortransport (EFT) predicted that three-dimensional (3-D) printing would affect their business. Three-dimensional printing—or additive manufacturing, as it's sometimes called—uses a special printer to apply powdered or liquid forms of such materials as plastic, metal, and ceramics in layers to create an object. Some industry experts believe that it could transform manufacturing by allowing companies or even consumers to make many products to order. Because of its capability for on-demand production, 3-D printing could mean that companies will be able to hold less parts and product inventory.

Seventy-two percent of the 160 logistics service providers participating in the survey said that 3-D printing would have some degree of impact on third-party logistics, and just under 9 percent said that it would be a "game changer" for their industry. Finally, 19 percent said they believe it will have no impact.

EFT also asked respondents whether they see this technology as a threat. Thirty-seven percent said they see 3-D printing as a business opportunity, while 35 percent labeled the technology both a threat and an opportunity. A mere 4 percent view 3-D printing as a threat, while 24 percent said it was neither a threat nor an opportunity.

In addition to logistics companies, EFT surveyed manufacturers about the future impact of 3-D printing. Nearly 12 percent of the 89 manufacturing respondents said that 3-D printing would become a significant part of the manufacturing process, while a little more than 37 percent said it would only play a small part. Around 51 percent, however, foresaw no impact. Interestingly, nearly 20 percent of the manufacturers surveyed said they were already using 3-D printing in some capacity.

The survey results are included in EFT's "3-D Printing Package," which contains articles and research on the topic.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you're not already logged in, you will be asked to log in or register.

Want more articles like this? Sign up for a free subscription to Supply Chain Executive Insight, a monthly e-newsletter that provides insights and commentary on supply chain trends and developments. Click here to subscribe.

We Want to Hear From You! We invite you to share your thoughts and opinions about this article by sending an e-mail to ?Subject=Letter to the Editor: Quarter 2014: Research: 3-D printing looms large over logistics"> . We will publish selected readers' comments in future issues of CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly. Correspondence may be edited for clarity or for length.

Want more articles like this? Subscribe to CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly.