History could repeat itself as 3D printing is poised to disrupt the supply chain much like email changed the way people communicate. The degree to which supply chains could be impacted by 3D printing is only an educated guess at this point as the technology matures and companies come to understand how to make the best use of it. Rather than shipping raw materials or components, the supply chain may shift to moving 3D printing materials and parts for final assembly or finished products for distribution. “I don’t think it’ll be a significant dent in the next year or two, but in the next five years and certainly in the next 10 years I definitely expect to see a reasonable dent in the supply chain as additive manufacturing matures,” Vinod Devan, product transformation lead for Deloitte Consulting LLP, told Supply Chain Dive. “There is going to be a large amount of distributed manufacturing and digitization of inventory which has applications across the product lifecycle so from a supply chain manufacturing threat, that’s the big disruption,” Devan said. Adidas is moving ahead with plans to mass produce 3D printed soles for footwear through a partnership with Carbon, a 3D manufacturing company. While technology is changing manufacturing, it’s also forcing companies to look at how they will manage the supply chain for their products in the future.
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