Digital inventory: How 3D printing lets manufacturers rely less on warehouses of stuff

Supply chain management and the production and storage of spare parts represent something of a sticking point for the global manufacturing industry. Spare and replacement parts have traditionally been stored on shelves in warehouses after having been produced alongside the components used in original production assemblies. Many of these parts will take up space for years, with some going unused but staying put just in case. Out-of-production original assemblies may become fully obsolete once parts are no longer in stock, leaving owners at a loss and needing to reinvest in wholly new products to replace something that may have only been impacted by one broken component that couldn’t be replaced.

Many industries rely on physical inventory to meet aftermarket needs and have accordingly built up global supply and distribution networks.

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