• 3D printing continues to disrupt global supply chains, shifting long-distance transportation to last-mile shipping.
  • Delivery and logistics companies around the world are taking notice of these changes and beginning to offer 3D printing services.

3D printing is leading to dramatic changes in the fields of manufacturing and logistics, with major implications for postal operators and other transportation and delivery companies. In a July 2014 white paper, If It Prints, It Ships: 3D Printing and the Postal Service, the OIG described how the rise of 3D printing could significantly benefit the Postal Service through an increase in commercial package shipments. In our new follow-up white paper, An Update on 3D Printing and the Postal Service, the OIG describes developments in 3D printing and the logistics marketplace and examines what these changes could mean for the Postal Service. 

The largest impacts of the growth of 3D printing are likely to fall on the logistics industry, potentially disrupting a significant portion of global air cargo or ocean container shipments and the freight trucking business, among other things. Localized production via 3D printing, including some potential reshoring of manufacturing back to the United States, will help shorten supply chains and reduce delivery times. This promises to enhance the importance of efficient last-mile parcel delivery, a core competency of the Postal Service. 

Foreign postal operators and other organizations involved in logistics and delivery have already begun working with 3D printing companies to offer unique services. By monitoring 3D printing developments and their potential implications for its nationwide delivery network, the Postal Service could better prepare itself for the fundamental changes to come in the global logistics landscape.

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Contributors

  • Charlie Crum, Christopher Backley, and William Jusino contributed to this report.

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