How will the diffusion of additive manufacturing impact the raw material supply chain process?
This study investigates the potential of additive manufacturing (i.e. 3D printing) to alter established manufacturing and supply chain processes, complementing previous research work that deals with additive manufacturing and rapid prototyping. Additive manufacturing is a manufacturing technique, which allows the direct fabrication of three-dimensional design models using an additive approach by adding layer after layer. As additive manufacturing is inherently less wasteful and only applies raw material where needed, it constitutes a chance to reduce materials usage and related inventories. Even though the technology has faced considerable hype, its adoption still does not match the high expectations. The aim of this study is to overcome limitations of state-of-the-art impact assessments by integrating the potential reduction of materials inventories through the adoption of additive manufacturing in manufacturing and to point out possible implications for supply chain processes. For this purpose, a dynamic evaluation model was developed analysing the adoption of additive manufacturing by integrating the Bass Diffusion Model to provide interesting and novel results for both practitioners and researchers. The study shows that additive manufacturing can indeed reduce raw materials inventory by approximately 4% and that the diffusion rate is likely to be affected by the utility of the technology.
additive manufacturing, 3D printing, inventory management, supply chain, Bass diffusion, raw material
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