3D printing to shake up supply chains: US research [WITH INFOGRAPHIC]


A US study of manufacturing businesses has concluded that 3D printing is expected to shake up the production process, and would continue to shift from prototyping to end-use parts.


PwC and The Manufacturing Institute jointly released 3-D printing and the new shape of industrial manufacturing, which took into account the responses of 110 businesses.


Two-thirds of companies (see infographic) were using 3D printing in some way, with 8.3 per cent planning to never use the technology in their business.


Just under half believed that in three to five years it was “likely” or “highly likely” that additive manufacturing would be used for limited-run, highly specialised products.


“Applying 3DP for rapid prototyping is nothing new for many manufacturers as it enables them and their suppliers to sidestep the often laborious and costly traditional processes,” Bob McCutcheon, the head of industrial products for PwC in the US, told manufacturing.net.


“However, we’re starting to see signs that the technology is on the cusp of becoming mainstream, and companies need to understand the disruptions and the opportunities that it could create.”


Respondents were also asked their opinion on the most likely scenario, given wide adoption of additive manufacturing.


The most common response was restructured supply chains (29.6 per cent of those surveyed), followed by a threat to intellectual property (27.8 per cent) and a changed relationship with end-users (13.9 per cent).


To read 3-D printing and the new shape of industrial manufacturing, click here.