The 3D printing technology has been much hyped lately. The immense benefits of 3D printing technology can help the supply chain of the company in multiple ways. The most innovative companies have looked upon the benefits of 3D printing technology to overcome logistical challenges and optimize their supply chain. The increasing levels of customer demand have placed immense pressure on the supply chain to deliver perfection both in terms of time and quality. For instance, a few years ago consumers were okay with waiting for a week to receive their products, but now with the advent of one-day or same day delivery, fulfilling customer demand has become challenging. So what are the benefits of 3D printing technology that can help companies to meet this ever-increasing customer demand and save costs?
Benefits of 3D Printing in Supply Chain Management
Mobility is one of the most useful benefits of 3D printing technology. Instead of going through the laborious process of land acquisition for infrastructure, buying machinery, and managing assets, all that’s required for 3D printing is a 3D printer and some input materials like plastic, powder, and resins. One of the remarkable benefits of 3D printing is that it gives customers the power to customize their goods even with instant deliveries. E-commerce retailers like Amazon could vastly benefit with such technology that puts power in the hands of the people.
At present, companies have to maintain an inventory of goods in terms of finished goods, in different SKU’s in various shapes and sizes. This can take up a lot of space adding to the inventory and warehousing cost. However, with 3D printers, all the raw materials are in the form of plastics and resins. So instead of keeping stock of different kind of goods, a 3D printer can instantaneously print required goods on demand. So, virtual inventory is one of the exceptional benefits of 3D printing that makes supply chain management even more efficient.
The manufacturing industry is intensely competitive with almost all companies following management principles like Just-in-Time (JIT). Additive manufacturing allows companies to develop spare parts, tools, and other fixtures to speed up assembly lines by developing durable and accurate parts. This is one of the extraordinary benefits of 3D printing that helps in maintaining optimum efficiency in manufacturing. For specific products, it can also hasten up the time-to-market thereby contributing to inventory turnover.
Reducing Transportation and Logistics Cost
Reduction in transportation and logistics cost is one of the most productive benefits of 3D printing. This technology allows the manufacturing processes to be decentralized. The traditional practice of having one manufacturing hub distributing the products all across the world adds to the product cost with increased logistics and transportation cost. Since 3D printers are very good at producing products even with moving parts, the assembly phase can be eliminated to save on labor and transportation cost.