How 3D Printing is Changing Supply Chains

3D Printing supply chain

You only need to look at the logistical nightmare of sourcing spare parts from overseas to see how 3D printing can transform supply chains overnight – imagine being able to additively manufacture your own parts in-house!

3D printing is helping companies reduce complexity in supply chains, reduce costs, overcome geopolitical barriers, reduce carbon emissions and gain a competitive advantage with open, flexible manufacturing.

Here are some examples of how 3D printing is changing supply chains:

  • Eliminates and reduces outsourcing
  • Huge savings on logistics, warehousing, storage and labour
  • Unlock agility in the supply chain; produce parts in hours
  • Speed up time to market and time to fulfilment
  • Competitive differentiation through on-demand printing

This article will explore how 3D printing is changing supply chains, lifting the lid on how it adds value in multiple business areas.

Decentralised production

3D printing is a portable technology that can be moved anywhere quickly. Micro-factories can be built anywhere in the world with 3D printers capable of rapid prototyping and mass production with no complex machines to configure.

Formlabs factory

Thanks to this portability and rapid deployment, 3D printing is transforming supply chains by decentralising production. Companies can create micro-factories closer to customers so that customers no longer rely on imports.

Product customisation

Highly configurable products are ripe for additive manufacturing, with the technology capable of producing bespoke products rapidly. Bespoke parts can be ordered and sent to print on the same day, reducing the time it takes to fulfil orders.

3D printing custom parts supply chain

Product customisation also opens new revenue opportunities for companies. No longer constrained by supply chains delivering parts, manufacturers can make bespoke products in-house, opening the door to new product offerings.

On-demand production

On-demand production is the key to unlocking value in 3D printing. For supply chains that require speed and agility, 3D printing is unequalled at enabling the rapid production of parts so that orders and logistics can keep moving.

Essentium-HSE supply chain

Another benefit to on-demand production is reduced logistics complexity and costs by taking imported parts out of the equation. If you can produce your own parts on-demand, imagine how much time and money you’ll save.

Lower carbon footprint

3D printers run on electricity which can be sourced from renewable sources. While the extrusion of materials has emissions, these can be filtered. Waste is negligible, with plastics like ABS, PLA, PP and other plastics fully recyclable.


Some 3D printers also have recycling built into their DNA. For example, HP Multi Jet Fusion technology recycles powder during printing, creating a closed-loop manufacturing process.

Real-time, worldwide collaboration

Cloud-based 3D printing software enables real-time, worldwide communication in software, helping teams share ideas and collaborate on projects.

Collaborate 3d printing

For example, office A in Berlin can design a part and instantly send it to print at factory B in Sydney. Another example: design teams in New York and London can collaborate on projects without back and forth communication because changes made in software are visible in real-time to all those connected.

Ready to get started with 3D printing?

To find out how 3D printing can revolutionise your supply chain, contact our award winning team on 01765 694 007 or email