Shipping giant UPS has been a strong proponent of 3D printing, establishing 3D print services at its UPS stores in the U.S. and at its Louisville, KY, hub. According to recent stories in Reuters and Fortune, the company’s planned expansion of print services into new global markets finds Big Brown in more of a defensive posture.
The company is doubling down on additive manufacturing, expanding its print services to Asia and Europe. With expanded service, the company will be able to print and deliver plastic parts around the world.
According to Reuters, this expansion may be a way to help get in front of a potential decline in its parts storing and shipping operations – one caused by companies printing their own 3D parts. In 2015, the company reported $6 billion in forwarding and logistics revenue, roughly 10% of sales. It’s not clear how much its warehouse operations contribute to that total.
“3D printing is a great opportunity for us, but it’s also a threat,” Alan Amling, UPS vice president for corporate strategy, told Reuters, noting that if companies can simply print replacement parts they’re unlikely to need UPS’ shipping services. UPS hopes to convince them that outsourcing is the way to go.
The company plans to establish a 3D printing factory in Singapore or Japan. The company already has an operational hub in Cologne, Germany, although there are no specific plans for a European facility as of yet.
This spring, the company launched a 3D printing service by teaming with Fast Radius in Atlanta. The two companies established a 3D print factory in Louisville, KY. In addition, UPS provides 3D printers at 60 UPS stores in the U.S.
Over the summer, UPS also announced a partnership with SAP to create a distributed network that could allow customers to order, print and receive printed parts and prototypes within 24 hours. SAP’s supply chain solutions would manage the process, while UPS handles the parts printing and shipping via its Louisville facility in conjunction with the printers in its stores. The solution also leverages the Fast Radius website.
You can read more about UPS’ 3D print activities here.