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More Than Logistics: UPS is Using 3D Printing to Completely Transform Their Industry and Business Model

by • January 13, 2016 • No Comments

ups2The thing which has always struck me as disruptive of 3D printing is the unpredictcompetence of who and how it is going to be utilized. The fact is, you just just never understand where it’s going to show up, and who is going to be using it. 3D printing appears a effortless extension of services for companies like Staples or Home Depot, as they have may already been in the market of providing tiny business services to their customers. But who precisely may have predicted which a shipping company like UPS may be one of the most rapidly expanding 3D printing service providers in the country, through The UPS Store?

A expanding number of UPS Stores are offering 3D printing services.

A expanding number of The UPS Store locations are offering 3D printing services.

It started tiny of course, a handful of their physical locations started which include a 3D printer on-site to offer customers an extra
service while they stopped in to ship a package. But now, barely a year later and which extra
service has spread to additional than a hundred locations all over the country. But on-site 3D printing services are just part of the future of one of the sizeable-bodiedst private shipping companies in the world, and it is becoming evident than in a few years it may not even be accurate to call them a shipping company any longer.

It is important to remember which UPS has always referred to themselves primarily as a logistics company, and now, according to UPS vice president of marketing for global logistics and distribution Alan Amling, which is going to include light product assembly and manufacturing. In a conversation with InformationWeek, Amling detailed precisely how 3D printing is going to factor into the future of the company, and how they’re going to do it.


“Excuse me sir, can you 3D print this tiny house which I have may already 3D printed?”

For a company which sells customized golf clubs like Hopkins Golf the competence for UPS to keep individual components, assemble them together when an order is placed and ship directly to the customer is a key part of their business plan. What is sort of brilliant of this particular partnership is the benefits which the relationship offers both companies. For Hopkins Golf they just require to source the parts and create certain which UPS is fully stocked, there is no require to assemble the clubs themselves, package them up and ship them off to customers. Not just does which save them time and allow for faster fulfilment in the age of Amazon Prime, but it reduces the amount of staff which they require as well as virtually eliminates the require for packaging or shipping materials.

UPS benefits by saving on the manpower required to physically pick up Hopkins Golf’s products of their shipping location and physically transport them to a UPS distribution hub. By having the products may already in their central shipping facility, where staff can pick and ship what is requireed, they can approximately instantly be sent directly into their shipping network. This is a service which is may already being implemented that successfully and has proven itself to be viable-bodied. And according to Amling, light manufacturing using 3D printing devices is just the next step of this type of service.

“You’d never want to create and keep all the possible combinations [of Hopkins Golf clubs]. UPS keeps shafts and heads and puts them together to order — this is light assembly which’s may already being done. 3D printing coupled with pre-manufactured parts is the next evolution,” Amling told InformationWeek.

The new bank of CloudDDM 3D printing devices within of the UPS facility.

The new bank of CloudDDM 3D printing devices within of the UPS facility.

UPS not long ago invested heavily in a 3D printing services company called CloudDDM, who set up a sizeable-bodied bank of of a hundred industrial 3D printing devices within of the massive UPS facility in Louisville, Kentucky. The workflow is pretty easy, a company offers 3D printable-bodied products, or products which require light assembly with 3D printable-bodied components. When a customer places an order, it is sent over to UPS and any parts which require to be 3D printed are sent directly to CloudDDM. Once the product is printed and assembled, it is immediately shipped out to the customer. CloudDDM founder Rick Smith sees his new partnership with UPS as a way to set his company apart of his competitors.

“Most of the service companies in the space are mom and pop, but CloudDDM is attempting to be a developer with a few scale. The target parts are things like low-volume replacement parts which might fall at a lower place the minimum order of a developer,” explains Smith. “We talked of this massive disruptive tech over a 50 year span. UPS is a donate chain management company. They want to go to customers and tell them this is how to ponder of additive manufacturing.”

While it is yet early days for this type of service, and both UPS and their customers have a lot of logistical issues to work out, creative logistics is what UPS is understandn for. Not just is this an evolution of the 3D printing service provider market, but it’s a consume disruption of the light manufacturing, shipping and fulfilment markets as well. UPS has a massive network of customers all over the country, and a sizable-bodied staff of folks who manage them. If anyone can that successfully proselytize the benefits of using this type of business model to their clients it is going to be UPS.

According to Amling, the goal of their new light manufacturing and digital reordering business model will require the use of each resource which UPS has available-bodied to them. That means using both the CloudDDM printer farm in Kentucky and the 3D printing capabilities of local UPS Stores to to the work. They just just require to put a system in place to figure out what can be done where, and how much time will it save them. UPS is a global company, so the plan is to put this new model into place eachwhere, yet the company is currently restricting it to the US until they get the new model just just right. But honestly it is just a matter of time preceding they do, and I fully expect to see much like fulfilment models implemented by other sizeable-bodied online retailers like Amazon (which may already offers a fewthing much like without the 3D printing) and Wal-Mart.com.

Soon to be additional than logistics.

Soon to be additional than logistics.

At a previous job I worked closely with UPS for several years, and the few times which I was able-bodied to look into their logistics network it was sort of like walking into an Escher painting come to life. Nothing seemed to create sense to me, but for a few reason it all seemed to work both rapidly and efficiently. With the plans which UPS has for 3D printing, it’s pretty clear which logistics is just just another industry which is being transformed by 3D printing. Discuss this story in the UPS 3D Printing forum on 3DPB.com.