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The impact of additive manufacturing on supply chains

Christian F. Durach (Department of Logistics, Institute of Technology and Management, Technische Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany)
Stefan Kurpjuweit (Department of Management, Technology, and Economics, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland)
Stephan M. Wagner (Department of Management, Technology, and Economics, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland)

International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management

ISSN: 0960-0035

Article publication date: 6 November 2017

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to offer empirical insights on emerging additive manufacturing (AM) processes, barriers to their adoption and a timeline of expected impacts on the supply chain in the manufacturing industry.

Design/methodology/approach

A multi-stage survey study was conducted with a panel of 16 experts from industry and academia.

Findings

Only five out of today’s seven AM processes are of future importance, as are two emerging key processes. In total, 15 barriers to their adoption are identified, all of which are expected to be gone within ten years. Eight propositions are derived postulating as to whether and when supply chain impacts can be expected in terms of changes to supply chain structure, customer centricity, logistics and supply chain capability.

Research limitations/implications

“Soft” barriers are new to the literature, which has traditionally focused on “technical” barriers. Often-discussed barriers such as production speed and costs do not reflect the true concerns of the research panel. Furthermore, some of the supply chain implications discussed in both the academic literature and the media are found to be unlikely to materialize.

Practical implications

The study summarizes AM processes, technologies, barriers and supply chain implications solicited from experts in the field.

Originality/value

This is one of the first studies to make empirical contributions to a vastly conceptual discussion. It is also the first study to give insights on a timeline for barriers and supply chain implications.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support by the Kühne Foundation and particularly thank Emre Akyol for his support in data collection.

Citation

Durach, C.F., Kurpjuweit, S. and Wagner, S.M. (2017), "The impact of additive manufacturing on supply chains", International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Vol. 47 No. 10, pp. 954-971. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPDLM-11-2016-0332

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited