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What's Keeping 3D Printing From Impacting the Supply Chain? Featured man in white laboratory gown standing near white and black machine

 The ever-rising customer demand is disrupting all sectors of the economy, leading to innovation among those who are in the supply chain and manufacturing sectors. Unlike a decade ago when customers would place an order and wait for a week or even a month, customers today are impatient. They place an order that should be delivered as fast as possible. This has been occasioned by the increased competition in the manufacturing industry and supply chain, as well as increased customer awareness. For example, with the rising number of companies such as Alibaba and Amazon, customers have become choosy and tend to purchase their products based on the time it takes for them to receive their item. For these customers to be satisfied and stay competitive in the current marketplace, companies are now investing in 3D printing technologies to come up with products fast and ship it to the customer at an acceptable time.

As companies fight hard to remain profitable in hard times where customer demands have increased, 3D will be the leading solution to supply chain challenges. Sadly, this technology has not been explored as it should due to various reasons. Here are things that keep 3D printing from impacting the supply chain.

  1. Inaction

The coronavirus pandemic has surprised the world. Although professionals knew that there would be a time when the virus would hit, the surprise is on how fast it brought the world to its knees. The virus has affected almost all areas of the economy. However, the virus has been felt more in the supply chain and logistics industry. The virus has made the movement of products impossible as social distancing regulations have been imposed to stop the spread of the virus. In such instances, 3D technology would have come in handy for many supply chain organizations had it been implemented earlier. Due to inaction among many companies, this technology could not help as it should have. Going forward, companies must consider taking advantage of various technologies, including using 3D printing as a lesson from the pandemic.

  1. Failure to plan for the future

Many businesses have not planned their future as they should. This is despite the potential shift that would force companies to work with suppliers closer home. Apart from making the process of distribution complex, it leaves supply chain and logistics companies susceptible to disruption as it has been witnessed during the time of the pandemic, such as the one we are experiencing now. As it is now, even a single point of failure in the supply route can result in a serious problem in the delivery of items to the customer.

  1. Mindset

Although 3D printing and additive manufacturing at large has shown immense potential, industry leaders are always reluctant to try this technology because of fear of change. They also prefer to stay in their comfort zone rather than trying new opportunities that can be beneficial to their operations and customer service. Some of the reasons that lead to this rigidity are the cost of implementation, accessibility to the technology, or fear to change operations. The current success of a business can also bring fear with regard to the reliability of the technology and the impact that the implementation of new methods can bring. Another major challenge is the lack of knowledge that is necessary to run new systems. This is often the leading problem when implementing new technologies.

As additive manufacturing keeps improving by the day, it is likely to impact manufacturing in a big way going forward. It is vital to think about the potential impact of 3D printing in the supply chain, how businesses can be protected, and ways this technology can be harnessed to improve services.

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Scott Koegler

Scott Koegler is Executive Editor for PMG360. He is a technology writer and editor with 20+ years experience delivering high value content to readers and publishers. 

Find his portfolio here and his personal bio here