Someday, the dusty back shelves of America’s warehouses could be replaced by UPS and SAP-enabled 3-D printing.
The companies on Wednesday said their goal is to transform the now ad hoc realm of industrial 3-D printing into a seamless, on-demand manufacturing process, from order to manufacturing and delivery.
“We don’t think this is going to take over manufacturing anytime soon. But we do think it’s going to be a disruptor much in the same way that online retail has disrupted retailing,” said Hans Thalbauer, senior vice president for extended supply chain at SAP.
In the 3D printing industry, nothing may be more wasteful than an idle 3D printer, particularly when it comes to industrial systems that can cost tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Thankfully, the Internet has the uncanny ability to network people all over the world, resulting in the launch of businesses that can connect 3D printer owners to those that need parts printed. One such company is 3Discovered, which has, ahead of RAPID 2016, launched its Parts Forever service to connect industrial 3D printing bureaus to customers in search of unique or legacy parts.
Since its inception in 2014, Chicago-based 3Discovered has built up its network of industrial 3D printer owners, while it has simultaneously built a case around the need for digital inventory in the modern age. By replacing stock items with 3D-printable CAD models, companies have the ability to only house the necessary components needed at a given time and can 3D print specialty items, such as spare parts, on-demand. 3Discovered has now initiated its Parts Forever service in the hopes that such a model will be incorporated into the supply chains of parts suppliers, equipment manufacturers and end users.