In 2016, logistics company UPS began offering on-demand 3D printing services. It wasn’t the first dip into 3D printing for the company, which began offering 3D printing services at 100 of its stores in 2014, but it was 2016 that really marked UPS’ large-scale adoption of 3D printing, and signified a willingness to work with a technology that could be seen as a threat to the logistics industry as a whole.
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Yesterday, FedEx announced that it would be realigning its specialty logistics and e-commerce solutions under FedEx Trade Networks, Inc. (FTN). It will be split into five divisions: FedEx Custom Critical, FedEx Cross Border, FedEx Supply Chain, FedEx Trade Networks Transport & Brokerage, and a new company called FedEx Forward Depots, which will be responsible for Critical Inventory and Service Parts Logistics, 3D Printing, Repair Center and the FedEx Packaging Lab.
“In order to improve our ability to leverage the unique capabilities of our specialty companies, we are realigning several companies in a new organizational structure under FedEx Trade Networks, led by FTN CEO Richard W. Smith,” said David J. Bronczek, President and Chief Operating Officer, FedEx Corporation. “Richard brings a strong background in working with the unique capabilities that have existed in many parts of the FedEx portfolio for several years and is well suited to lead this new organization that will bring these solutions to customers more seamlessly than ever.”
They has not provided much detail on what exactly its 3D printing services will entail, but it’s not a surprise that the company is initiating some sort of a 3D printing service. If 3D printing means that companies are manufacturing their own parts in-house, and storing less inventory, that means reduced business for logistics companies. Those companies then need to make up that revenue elsewhere, and it makes sense for them to turn the technology threatening their business to their advantage.
It will be interesting to see exactly what kinds of 3D printing services they plan to offer. Will it follow the UPS model, giving customers the opportunity to 3D print their designs in-store as well as to order on-demand 3D printed parts? Or will it be something different? Either way, it appears that it has embraced 3D printing in a big enough way to dedicate a new division to it, at least in part.
The new realignment will go into effect on March 1st of this year.