Under looming threat of customers 3D printing their own parts, UPS is planning on expanding its services to Asia and Europe. In a bid to fully embrace the technology and get ahead of the trend that threatens to take away a portion of their business, the company is looking to offer a service that will print parts outside of the US.
UPS gets an undisclosed amount of revenue from storing and shipping parts for manufacturers in addition to its main package delivery service. The business would face a drastic reduction if customers of this service were to start printing their own parts. By printing parts themselves, UPS will circumvent that.
“3D printing is a great opportunity for us, but it’s also a threat,” said Alan Amling, UPS vice president for corporate strategy.
UPS launched their 3D printing services in May, which included an alliance with Fast Radius. They also have 3D printers in 60 UPS stores across the United States, and along with the printers at the Fast Radius factory, print and ship industrial grade parts from online orders.
With the expansion, an Asia-based 3D printing factory is expected in either Singapore or Japan, while the European location is yet to be announced. All signs point to Germany however, as UPS’s operational hub in Europe is in Cologne, Germany.
Printing parts in the US to then ship to Europe negates the benefits of 3D printing, the chief being time. A part that takes 72 hours to print only to then need to be shipped elsewhere illustrates the need for UPS’s expansion.
Fast Radius CEO Rick Smith said that because of 3D printing, manufacturing is about to transform from “being about where it’s made to where it’s needed.”
GoPro Inc, is making use of Fast Radius’ printers, coupled with UPS’s ability to deliver a prototype the next day. Previously, if GoPro wanted to tinker with new designs and ideas it would take months, but with 3D printing the company can stumble across innovations much more quickly.
While UPS is the first in its industry in the US to delve into 3D printing, competitors like FedEx may not be far behind.
Featured image: UPS