3D printing and supply chain management

Supply Value researched 3D printing at nine Dutch companies and compared the supply chains of industrial and consumer products. There are major differences between the supply chains of both groups.

The supply chains of simple consumer products are very short because products can be produced closer to the customer. This is also called on demand 3D printing and distributed production. Consumer products such as phone cases do not require extensive post-processing. Often the removal of sharp edges is sufficient to come to an end product. Various online 3D printing suppliers facilitate the on-demand 3D printing of (plastic) consumer products. After uploading a 3D CAD model, only the production location has to be chosen. Afterwards the product can be picked up or sent with parcel post.

The supply chain for industrial products is much more similar in length to the standard supply chain that we see in traditional production methods. After 3D printing, a product has to be post-processed. This is done by means of heat treatment in an oven and traditional metal processing, such as milling and turning. After the heat treatment, the product is ready to be milled so that it falls within the specifications that the customer has set. After quality checks, the product is then ready to be sent to the customer. The post-processing is so specialized that it is often spent on partners. As a result, the production location is not as flexible as with 3D printing. This ensures a longer supply chain, whereby traditional metal processing and transport remain necessary.

3D printing industry supply chain supply value

 Next steps for 3D printing

Would you like more information about the 3D printing supply chain and are you curious about the recommendations of Supply Value for the 3D printing industry? Download the free research report via the link at the bottom of this page.

Continued research into purchasing 3D Printing

Following this initial investigation into the 3D printing industry, Supply Value started a second study into the purchase of 3D printing on the adoption, implementation and purchase of 3D printing / additive manufacturing. Read more about the follow-up study here; www.supplyvalue.nl/adoption-implementation-and-buy-of-3d-printing/

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