3D printing, a supply chain challenge

Panalpina’s strategic partnership with 3D printing specialist Shapeways is one more step in a march towards digital manufacturing that will challenge supply chain suppliers, including air cargo.

In May this year, software company SAP signed an agreement with UPS to collaborate to transform the ad hoc world of industrial 3D printing into a “seamless, on-demand manufacturing process from order through manufacturing and delivery”.

But just where are we in the development timeline of 3D technology, otherwise known as additive manufacturing, and what is the immediate challenge for airfreight?

In the aerospace industry, additive printing is already taking place for certain aircraft components.

At the Farnborough International Airshow, SAP signed a co-innovation agreement with APWorks, a subsidiary of Airbus Defence and Space, which aims to “accelerate the adoption and standardisation of industrial 3D printing initiatives for the aerospace and defense industry”.

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