Once upon a time the assembly line was the symbol of cutting-edge innovation and efficiency in manufacturing. One day soon 3D printing could give the assembly line a run for its money.
Whereas, in traditional manufacturing, parts and pieces are often collected from around the globe for assembly, with 3D printing important things like hearing aids and airplane components can be made locally, sometimes with no assembly at all. And the ripple effects on the logistics industry could be huge, with some experts predicting that 3D printing could even cause global supply chains to collapse.
Localized production through 3D printing could mean fewer warehouses packed full of dusty replacement parts that nobody has even looked for in years. Manufacturers and warehouse providers could shift to digital inventories where they print things on demand, with the ability to fully customize them for each individual customer.
Print-on-demand in local facilities could lead to a shift from long-distance shipping to last-mile delivery. According to analysts with PwC’s Strategy& team, 3D printing could disrupt more than a third of global air cargo or ocean container shipments, as well as a quarter of the freight trucking business. That would be a fundamental transformation.
These changes could be a great boon for the U.S. Postal Service, given the increased importance on the last-mile that 3D printing may bring. Our new white paper, An Update on 3D Printing and the Postal Service,, discusses how 3D printing's impact on logistics and supply chains could affect the Postal Service. We think the Postal Service would do well to keep carefully monitoring this cutting-edge technology. After all, organizations involved in delivery and logistics might be ill-equipped to work with tomorrow's supply chains if they don't fully understand the emerging implications of 3D printing today.
Tell us: How do you see 3D printing affecting the Postal Service? How interested are you in 3D-printed goods?