3D printing is useful in several sectors by providing latest models of supply chains, reducing the costs and risks involved. 3D printing follows a process known as stereo-lithography wherein products are fabricated by using printers which places the materials as layers one on top of another. Another method is sintering which uses lasers to produce the finished material by burning them. The design is created by using CAD software or an individual laser scan and the image is then passed on to the printer. This image is finally produced using plastics, metal or composites.
The basics apart, 3D printing has immense usage in supply chain management because companies are focusing on reducing costs and improved customer satisfaction. The latest technologies support numerous new models of supply chain like streamlined logistics model, customer managed inventory, 3D printing hub, home 3D printing etc. These latest technologies are either partially adopted or fully adopted by varying industries and affect the capability and cost of supply chains significantly. Installation of printer at client sites, reduce the time for delivery and increase constructive work time. When the inventory levels are reduced, it leads to reduction in warehousing needs and in turn, simplification of supply chain networks. Supply chains tend to respond rapidly to changes and as a result, will enable companies to respond to smaller product life cycles. Products become cheaper to create and users will get more options for customization etc.