Who needs a warehouse when you have a printer?
Daimler creates parts on demand with 3-D printing.
Three-dimensional (3-D) printing is quickly becoming an important tool in the business world, but few can predict its impact on the supply chain sector.
Will demand for warehouse space shrink as manufacturers print the parts they need on demand instead of making them ahead of time and storing them in DCs? Will express parcel carriers see a drop in business as shippers e-mail digital designs instead of mailing physical parts? Or will 3-D printing be reserved mainly for filling niche demand for prototypes and replacement parts (the approach taken by a New Zealand airline that prints out replacement tray tables)?
Truck manufacturer Daimler recently helped clarify the situation when it announced it had begun using 3-D printing to produce spare parts. The announcement suggests that 3-D printing has matured beyond creating basic engineering prototypes and demonstration parts, and graduated to producing functional automotive-grade items.
Also known as "additive manufacturing," 3-D printing works by using a digital blueprint to direct specialized printers to create physical parts from substrates such as plastic, glass, metal, or ceramic. Daimler will use a version called selective laser sintering (SLS) that allows it to create high-quality plastic components, such as covers, spacers, spring caps, air and cable ducts, and clamps.
By allowing customers to order spare parts from digital catalogs, Daimler expects to save money by closing factory lines and eliminating stocking and warehousing costs for those seldom-needed items.
Resources Mentioned In This Article
- Tech companies join forces to help retailers modernize their supply chains
- HighJump to integrate software with Locus Robotics AMRs
- Capgemini survey: millennial shoppers ready and willing for autonomous stores
- A moveable feast?
- Trimble agrees to buy TMS vendor Kuebix in bid to build unified logistics platform
Join the Discussion
After you comment, click Post. If you're not already logged in, you will be asked to log in or register.
Feedback: What did you think of this article? We'd like to hear from you. DC VELOCITY is committed to accuracy and clarity in the delivery of important and useful logistics and supply chain news and information. If you find anything in DC VELOCITY you feel is inaccurate or warrants further explanation, please ?Subject=Feedback - : Who needs a warehouse when you have a printer?">contact Chief Editor David Maloney. All comments are eligible for publication in the letters section of DC VELOCITY magazine. Please include you name and the name of the company or organization your work for.