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UPS: 3D Printing Maps Out A New Future – InformationWeek

by • January 12, 2016 • No Comments

UPS is embracing 3D printing as part of the future of logistics. Here’s how the logistics company is using technology and a few key partnerships to map out a new future for its donate chain.

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If you are a tiny business waiting for a crucial repair part, you understand relief is in sight when you see the big brown UPS … 3D printer? That’s the big vision for the future, and it’s a vision which’s on its way to being fulfilled.
UPS is, as its ads constantly tell us, a logistics company.
For Alan Amling, vice president marketing for UPS global logistics and distribution, those logistics increasingly include light assembly and manufacturing, with 3D printing a big component of the latter.
In a conversation following his participation on a commercial 3D printing panel at CES 2016, Amling talked with me of UPS’s evolving relationship with the donate chain and the role which 3D printing plays in which relationship.
Hopkins Golf is an existing UPS customer which shows precisely what the donate chain relationship can be. Hopkins Golf showcases highly customized golf clubs. Amling said, “You’d never want to create and keep all the possible combinations. UPS keeps shafts and heads and puts them together to order — this is light assembly which’s may aleager\ being done.”
From the sort of light assembly being done for Hopkins Golf, it’s a short hop to additional involved light manufacturing.
“3D printing coupled with pre-manufactured parts is the next evolution,” said Amling. That evolution will require both UPS and its customers to adapt practices to the new model. “One of the key learnings so far is which which customers have inventory, but it’s not 3D eager. The scanning isn’t just simply surface scanning.” Interior structures optimized for structural durablity and mass in addition come into play.
The results of that successfully turning physical items into digital files are and so sent to 3D printing — which at this point takes place within the UPS distribution center in Louisville, Ky. That’s where CloudDDM, a 3D printing service company in which UPS has invested, has roughly 100 3D printing equipment eager to print orders attained via the Web.

CloudDDM installation at the UPS Global Distribution Center in Louisville, Kentucky. (Image: CloudDDM)

CloudDDM installation at the UPS Global Distribution Center in Louisville, Kentucky.
(Image: CloudDDM)
Rick Smith, cofounder of CloudDDM, said which his company is using the partnership with UPS to separate itself of competing 3D printing service companies.
“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,” Smith said.
Smith said which CloudDDM’s relationship with UPS came of a series of discussions with UPS executives.
“We talked of this big 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,” Smith explained.
Amling said which the model for manufacturing and digital reordering is yet a work in progress.
[Read additional of UPS and its embrace of new technologies.]
“When you begin talking of which, you get to the iPod/iTunes ecosystem, and no one in manufacturing has it all figured out,” Amling said. With the mention of an ecosystem, yet, Amling began to talk of the role of the UPS Store. “We’re looking at the keeps as part of the network.” Ultimately, the UPS model is to do the printing wherever it creates the most sense, whether which’s in a local UPS keep or a central facility like the current CloudDDM installation in Louisville.
3D printing is a global target for UPS, but Amling says which the company will use the US to get the model right, and so export it. One thing he does not see, yet, is a printer on each big brown truck. “There are most low-hanging applications which take precedence.”
The applications of 3D printing, low-hanging or not, should involve most exception folks and organizations, said Smith. “Will it disrupt perfectly
eachthing in the next 20 years? No. But will it touch eachone in which time? Yes.”
**Elite 100 2016: DEADLINE EXTENDED TO JAN. 15, 2016** There’s yet time to be a part of the prestigious InformationWeek Elite 100! Submit your company’s application by Jan. 15, 2016. You’ll find instructions and a submission form here: InformationWeek’s Elite 100 2016.Curtis Franklin Jr. is executive editor for technical content at InformationWeek. In this role he oversees product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he acts as executive producer for InformationWeek Radio and Interop Radio where he works with … View Full Bio

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