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3D Printing and Its Effect on the Logistics Industry

A recent trend that has popped up in the last few decades is the invention of 3D printing. Instead of printing a 2D picture into piece of paper, 3D printing is when the picture is printed as a solid object. With all of the potential growth that it may have for the logistics industry, it may also have a negative effect.

Positive Impact on the Logistics Industry

Since logistics are the obtaining, manufacturing, and distributing of goods to the public, 3D printing can potentially simplify this process. This is because the products could be produced directly, near a company’s office instead of being brought in from a different country. Time and capital is saved, and the company has a greater control on the manufacturing of the goods. This also means that supply chain itself may become faster.

Greater customization is also possible since the goods are produced digitally and can be individualized for the customer. Another positive result of 3D printing is that the waste created from the production of a product will be reduced. Regular manufacturing tends to leave out excess waste but since 3D printing uses the necessary amounts of materials such as synthetic resin and plastic, no material is left unused. And on a large scale, this can be greatly beneficial to the environment. The need for warehouse storage can also be reduce since production of goods can be on-demand or when needed.

Negative Impact on the Logistics Industry

A section of the logistics industry that may be negatively impacted is the freight forwarding industry. The job of a freight forwarder is to coordinate the shipment of goods internationally and this can change with 3D printing. Many of the goods that are produced today out outsourced from different countries. Since 3D printing allows for direct insourcing of a good, the amount of freight forwarders can decrease. Similarly, the number of customs brokerages may be lowered because goods produced inside their own country do not necessarily have to go through customs.

Having to go through customs is also important for security reasons because one task of a customs official is to look for potential threats of a product. Since 3D printing allows for insourcing, certain safety requirements may be overlooked. Although 3D printing is growing, it is not sizable enough for mass production of goods and products. The method of having goods produced oversees and being brought over with the assistance of a freight forwarder may still be favorable if your company produces a large amount of goods.

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