Logistics company UPS partnered with supply chain firm SAP to offer 3-D printing and delivery services to Singapore, evidencing the global expansion of on-demand additive manufacturing.
UPS will work with partner Fast Radius, a Chamblee, GA-based provider of 3-D plastic and metal printing technologies, CNC machining and rapid injection molding, to extend their services into the Asian market and beyond.
- The digital transport of products promises to enable virtual inventories over physical ones, reducing costs and lead times by manufacturing components closer to where they are being used.
With benefits including the creation of parts and products on demand for rapid prototyping or even the creation of components for use on the job site, 3-D printing remains a tough investment for smaller architecture, engineering and construction firms that lack the financial resources necessary for adopting the technology in-house.
UPS, which warehouses manufacturer components as part of its business model, is attempting to embrace the trend toward digital delivery over physical delivery while continuing to rely on its logistics expertise to create supply chain efficiencies. Meanwhile, the expansion into Singapore calls attention to the city-state's $500 million Future of Manufacturing program, which was developed to spur investment around new fabrication technologies and related business models considering the island's reliance on imports of everything from consumer products to energy. Coupled with Singapore's leading mandates and research around sustainable design and construction, their partnership with UPS to expand access to on-demand 3-D printing services will likely have potential for the built environment.
For AEC firms, however, the near-term advantage comes from broader, on-demand access to highly specialized 3-D printing services, and a reduction in the reliance on inventoried parts to make repairs or commence product installations in the field.