The Tremendously Disruptive Future of 3D Printing from UPS

Charlie Covert of UPS will speak during the Market Overview session at 3D Printing for Industrial Applications. Smithers Pira recently spoke with Charlie to hear what he sees for the future of 3D printing, how 3D is disrupting traditional supply chains and more.

Smithers Pira: What drove the decision for UPS to get into 3D printing?

Charlie Covert: We believe that Additive Manufacturing (aka 3D Printing) has reached a tipping point with the technology, machine capabilities, and materials.  AM is primed to finally meet the promise of mainstream manufacturing in high volume.  We wanted to incorporate this capability into our global logistics portfolio in order to enhance the value we provide to our customers.  Positioning Fast Radius at our global air hub operations provides an ability for customers to order parts late in the day and still received them the next morning.

Smithers Pira: What has been the initial reaction?

Charlie Covert: The initial reaction has been very positive.  Customers are realizing that it isn't enough to just product parts, they have to get then where they need them quickly and reliably.  Many companies know this is something they need to incorporate, they just aren't sure how this will impact their industry and how to exploit the capability.  We work with our customers to not only provide the logistics, but the business strategy to develop a competitive advantage.

Smithers Pira: What are the key technology needs for succeeding in 3D printing?

Charlie Covert: Integrating AM into the parts planning systems will be key.  The decision when to manufacture using traditional means vs. additive needs to be made within these systems rather than one off manual decisions.  This will also impact ERP systems as the technology advances bring more and more parts into a feasible and economic range for additive manufacturing.

Smithers Pira: How do you see 3D disrupting traditional supply chains and how do you think this will impact UPS?

Charlie Covert: This will  be tremendously disruptive to current supply chains.  In areas such as matching production to demand, reducing or eliminating inventory, product design improvement, and shaping customer behavior the level of disruption is difficult to fathom.  Combined with other mega-trends such as big data and IoT, it is safe to say that status quo is a death sentence.  Companies who quickly incorporate these capabilities will have a material competitive advantage.  Companies that are slow to react will be in grave risk.  UPS is poised to help companies think through this impact on their business and supply chain.

Smithers Pira: What are you most looking forward to about the conference?

Charlie Covert: I'm really looking forward to learning from each other.  There are so many creative ways that 3D Printing can be used in a wide variety of businesses. 

Join Charlie at this year's 3D Printing for Industrial Applications to hear more from him and other leading experts in the 3D printing industry.