May 18, 2016 | By Alec

3D printing is becoming big business, and even large corporations are catching on. The United Parcel Service (more commonly known as UPS), the world’s largest package delivery company, is now also fully committing itself to the 3D printing industry. In new announcement, the company revealed that they will be setting up an extensive on-demand 3D printing service in collaboration with European software provider SAP. The new service will be provided by UPS stores throughout the US and will be focused on speed and low-cost production.

Of course UPS is no stranger to 3D printing. Last year, they started offering limited 3D printing services through a 3D printing HQ in Louisville, Kentucky. That service operates through a collaboration with Fast Radius, but is mainly business-oriented and only 3D prints in the industrial grade ABSplus. But UPS has exploring other 3D printing options for some time now; earlier in the year, they teamed up with the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) to study the 3D printing’s market potential over the next four years. Those expectations were positive, and UPS is now clearly seeking to be part of these growth opportunities.

This new 3D printing service announcement has just been made at SAP’s Sapphire Now conference. And as Alan Amling, vice president of UPS Supply Chain Solutions, revealed, UPS is ambitious. It should become possible, depending on the submitted part, “to take an order in the early evening and have the part made and delivered the next day,” Amling said.

That’s a very ambitious plan, but UPS believe that software developers SAP have the supply chain capabilities to realize such an “end-to-end system” that covers every step leading up to delivery. It will also be made available through more than sixty UPS stores. In the new scheme, First Radius’s upload platform will be used by customers, and 3D printing will take place at the nearest UPS Store. According to Amling, the Kentucky store will act as a digital manufacturing network hub for the other stores throughout the US.

SAP, Europe's largest software company, was tapped exactly for its ability to provide supply chain solutions to help manufacturers reach their target audiences as efficiently as possible. They have previously provided similar services to a wide range of companies. As John Dulchinos of SAP customer Jabil Circuit (with $18 billion in revenue in 2015) recently told Reuters, SAP’s supply chain capabilities could really add a new dimension to UPS’s 3D printing services. “Speed is critical to us and we see tremendous value,” Dulchinos said. Jabil Circuit also expects to use the service for 3D printed parts in the near future.

As Amling confirmed, SAP’s supply chain software will make it much easier to place orders and to automatically determine if designs are 3D printable and financially viable. If the part is available elsewhere, it will also calculate if its more sensible to pull it from stock. Depending on the size of the part, they will then be automatically 3D printed near you or (in the case of large industrial batches) at the Louisville hub. “[UPS is providing] added flexibility into the network to send that manufacturing request to the most appropriate place,” Amling added.

Both UPS and SAP believe that this new service will help to transform 3D printing from a niche manufacturing segment into a full-fledged prototyping and development option. Gil Perez, SAP’s vice president of digital assets and Internet of things, argued that UPS customers can use it to create a lot more than just novelty items and prototypes. New designs, small batch production and out-of-service replacement parts can all be easily 3D printed. “Right now many companies have a lot of just-in-case inventory, parts that can sit on the shelf for years,” Amling said, adding that 3D printing can make all those companies far more efficient.

This interesting service is expected to be rolled out this summer, and should be fully available by the first quarter of 2017. While 3D printing services are becoming increasingly available and commercially viable throughout the US, IDC Research Inc analyst Robert Parker believes that UPS is stepping in at exactly the right time. “UPS is taking a pole position with this service and in the long term this makes a great deal of sense,” he told Reuters. Perhaps we will all be 3D printing through UPS in a few years from now.



Posted in 3D Printing Service



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ankita saxena wrote at 5/26/2016 12:27:18 PM:

hi iam currentlu persuing btech in there any university or company which provides a certified course in 3 d printing??

Angie Barnard wrote at 5/19/2016 12:25:50 AM:

How can we bring on demand 3-D printing to The Network Hub? It would be a nice compliment to our in demand work space, mail/courier and print/scan services. Angie Barnard 250 591 8847

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