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  August 1st, 2016 | Written by

Logistics Provider Enters Strategic Partnership for 3D Printing

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  • 3D printing is beginning to take its place as an important element in manufacturing and logistics.
  • Production is moving away from centralized manufacturing to a distributed model.
  • Customers are demanding customized and personalized products.

Shapeways, a platform powered by digital manufacturing, and Panalpina, a logistics services provider, have entered into a strategic partnership covering 3D printing.

Panalpina will benefit from Shapeways’ advanced software solutions and in-depth know-how of 3D printing materials, equipment and processes. Panalpina with its global footprint and facilities in major markets, offers Shapeways geographical expansion possibilities and support in logistics, manufacturing, distribution, and other value-added services.

3D printing is beginning to take its place as an important element in manufacturing and logistics.

While the technology has been around for decades, its recent surge in popularity makes sense in the context of current major manufacturing trends.

Shorter product life cycles, the rise in digital purchasing, and higher speeds to market mean that production is moving away from centralized manufacturing to a more distributed model. At the same time, customers are demanding more customized and personalized products and have the ability to influence the product design.

That’s why logistics companies are increasingly embracing 3D printing as an added-value service they can provide their customers.

“3D printing is one of the most exciting frontiers of digital transformation,” said Mike Wilson, Panalpina’s global head of logistics. “It stands for the convergence of the real with the virtual world and it has the potential to dramatically change the traditional manufacturing and logistics industries.”

“As manufacturing moves from analog to digital, everything we know about product creation will change,” said Peter Weijmarshausen, CEO of Shapeways. “Our community the world over is leveraging access to digital manufacturing from our platform to bring thousands of new products to life every day.”

“3D printing is ideal for bringing production closer to the end user and aiding in mass personalization,” added Wilson.

Shapeways community members make products ranging from puzzles, miniature trains, and smartphone cases, to drone accessories and jewelry. Shapeways enables its members to make, customize, and sell the products they design. The products are manufactured using high-end 3D printers in 56 different materials.

“Panalpina is ideally suited to assist with the final steps in the manufacturing process including last-mile delivery,” said Weijmarshausen. “In addition, Panalpina is investing in its own 3D printing research and capabilities. This demonstrates how committed and serious Panalpina is about the technology, making them an ideal partner for us.”

Panalpina recently launched two joint research projects with Cardiff University in the Umnited Kingdom, where the company aims to identify the products that could be switched from traditional to new, additive manufacturing techniques and also the impact these techniques will have on future supply chains. In October of last year, Panalpina invested in its first 3D printer to get an understanding of how the technology works as a complement to its logistics manufacturing services offering. Having gone through this learning curve the company is now positioned to take the business further.

“Because the value for the customer is added at the end of the supply chain, the brand owner can keep inventories, as well as the cost of transportation and obsolescence, to a minimum,” said Wilson. “Additive manufacturing produces less waste than traditional manufacturing methods, which fits perfectly with increasingly circular economies.”