How 3D Printing Impacts Logistics and Supply Chains- by Abhilasha Satpathy, DCMME Center Graduate Student Assistant

In recent years, 3D printing has brought manufacturing capabilities to several remote, hard-to-access areas across the globe. DHL, for instance, tells us that the U.S. Navy 3D prints drones on-demand on board its oceangoing vessels. NASA, meanwhile, is working to develop a 3D printer for the International Space Station. Shell is also experimenting with this remote manufacturing method on offshore oil platforms.

Pay-for-use or nonprofit fabrication shops are becoming more popular as well, offering public access to 3D printing tools, and some websites have begun aggregating 3D printing designs, allowing customers to compare and select printing services that work for their specific needs.These initiatives are disrupting the traditional manufacturing supply chain in several ways. In researching warehouse stocking practices in Amsterdam, DiManEx found that approximately 80% of stored products were sold only twice yearly, which led to write-offs, scrapping, and wasted materials. With on-demand, on-site printing, companies can move away from having to store excess spare parts and can instead deliver parts quickly and efficiently, whenever they’re required. Mercedes-Benz Trucks, for instance, allows customers to 3D print more than 30 cargo truck spare parts.

As 3D printing becomes more and more prevalent, expect to see increased supplier consolidation as well. For instance, logistics providers may offer added value by being the ones to process, print, and deliver 3D parts quickly and cheaply. In this way, the typical months-long process of designing, sourcing, and producing component parts can be cut down drastically. In the future, 3D printing warehouses may also take on the responsibility of material sourcing in addition to 3D end-to-end design, production, and delivery. As an example, consider Amazon’s bet on this technology: The company has patented a truck fitted with 3D printers that would allow for sophisticated mobile manufacturing capabilities. Increased responsiveness is also likely, as 3D printers allow for smaller batch sizes, which can positively impact quality control and open the door for expedited product development.

Finally, this kind of technological innovation is likely to bring about advanced customization options, as users will be able to select various aspects of the design, material, shape, size, packaging, and so on. And in gaining the power to make and deliver their own 3D-printed products, customers will no longer be limited to what suppliers themselves design and produce.



3D Printing Finds Its Place in the Supply Chain. (n.d.). Retrieved from



  1. How is 3D printing bringing about advanced customization options into supply chains ?
  2. How is 3D printing reducing wastage in supply chains ?
  3. How is 3D printing improving the efficiencies of supply chains ?




Brunei’s Christmas ban

In a December 23, 2015 article in the Washington Times, the ban on Christmas in Brunei is outlined. Brunei which is a member of the new TPP deal strictly prohibits anyone from celebrating Christmas under its Sharia law. This has raised eyebrows of many from the western world and some question why Brunei has been included in this new deal. What repercussions could Brunei see from this law? How will this law be enforced? Will the TPP deal be affected in any way?

Japan Will Benefit With Projected Increase in Southeast Asia’s GDP

In a January 8th article in the Nikkei Asian Review, It discusses the predicted implications for the 12 member TPP alliance. In a positive projection, all members GDP will increase by an average of 1.1%. Southeast Asian countries will benefit the most with Vietnam projected at a 10% increase, Malaysia at an 8% increase and Brunei with 5%. This all bodes well for Japan as many of these countries are looking to expand business opportunities for Japanese companies. How will Japan’s GDP be affected? What type of business will grow for Japan in Southeast Asia? Will these Southeast Asian countries really grow this much under the new TPP deal?

TPP Deal Set to Advance Human Rights

In an article in The Washington Blade, politicians discuss how the new TPP deal will advance human rights. The deal outlines standards including environmental protection, protecting intellectual property by multinational corporations, and anticorruption laws. Several countries, in particular Brunei, lack legislation that protects certain human rights. Primarily extramarital relationships and homosexuality are punishable under Brunei’s sharia based law. U.S. lawmakers say that the new deal, of which Brunei is a partner, is a first step in improving the human rights situation in Brunei. How will the new work standards help to pave the way for future human rights protection in Brunei? What consequences may Brunei see if it continues under its current legal punishment system? Will some countries still refuse to do trade with Brunei?

TPP will ‘advance human rights’

A State department official told that TPP will greatly aid the efforts to advance human rights in the Asia-Pacific region. The TPP will contain new labor and environmental standards, protects the IP of multinational companies and prioritizes “transparency and anticorruption” and also contains “enforceable standards” with regards to human rights.

Brunei, a part of TPP, last year began to implement a new legal code based on Sharia law that punishes those convicted of homosexuality by stoning to death. Malaysia also has history of conviction based on freedom of people like former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s conviction under country’s anti sodomy law.

Jerame Davis, executive director of Pride at Work, said that it is inexcusable giving countries access to the markets without ensuring most basic human right protections for the citizens. Davis also argued against TPP because it would increase cost of antiretroviral drugs to treat HIV and make less available to these countries. Neela Ghoshal, senior LGBT researcher for Human Rights Watch told that there is no evidence that TPP includes any mechanism for promoting LGBTI rights in countries like Malaysia and Brunei. Also, the impacts of increasing the drug prices would affect these people who are poor and HIV-positive.

The Human Rights Campaign and the National Centre for Transgender Equality earlier in 2015 urged the White House to require Brunei to address their Human Rights violations ahead of the TPP negotiations. The State Department has criticised Brunei over its new penal code. Former Deputy Defence Secretary told during his speech that they will continue to take global leadership in defending and promoting human rights of LGBTI persons in TPP partner countries and around the world.

TPP Deal Reached

The recent trade deal reached between 12 Pacific countries, including the U.S. and Japan, was described as the ‘largest regional trade accord’ in history, in an article by the New York Times. The agreement is hailed as an important first step after two years of intense negotiations. The deal is set to open new markets, protect workers, and preserve the environment. While these 12 countries have an agreed upon deal in place, the next step will be for the agreement to make its way through each participant’s respective legal system. How might the current deal change as it is vetted through the respective country’s political processes? What are some benefits to the new TPP? What are some of the downsides to the new TPP?

Trans-Pacific Free Trade Deal Agreed Creating Vast Partnership

According to the article,, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the biggest trade deal in decades, was struck on Monday after five years of bitter and tense negotiations. The TPP cuts trade tariffs and sets common standards in trade for 12 Pacific Rim countries and covers about 40% of the world economy. However, although negotiations have been finalized, the deal is yet to be ratified by law makers in all 12 countries.

For President Obama, the TPP trade deal is a major victory. He stated: “This partnership levels the playing field for our farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers by eliminating more than 18,000 taxes that various countries put on our products.” In opposition, however, US Senator and US Democratic presidential candidate hopeful Bernie Sanders argues that Wall Street and big business have “won again,” stating that the TPP deal will cost US jobs and hurt consumers.

Additionally, China was not involved in the TPP agreement, however the Obama administration is hoping that it will be forced to accept the majority of the standards outlined by the TPP. He was quoted: “When more than 95% of our potential customers live outside our borders, we can’t let countries like China write the rules of the global economy. We should write those rules, opening new markets to American products while setting high standards for protecting workers and preserving our environment.”

Furthermore, the final round of TPP negotiations were delayed over how long pharmaceutical companies should be permitted to maintain a monopoly on their drugs. The US wanted twelve years of protection, while Australia and New Zealand argued for five. A compromise was reached, however the definitive protection period has yet to be confirmed.

Finally, the auto industry as well as the agriculture industry were also areas of intense negotiations. In regards to the auto industry, countries agonized over how much of a vehicle must be manufactured within a TPP country in order to qualify for duty-free status. Agriculture was another sticking point, as countries such as New Zealand wanted more access to markets in Canada, Mexico, Japan, and the US; Canada wanted to keep access to its dairy and poultry markets strictly limited, however.