In May 2016, Trucks.com published a report about how “3-D Printing will disrupt the Trucking, Shipping and Delivery Industries”. Their estimates are that this technology, formally known as ‘additive printing’ and the associated “on-demand” supply chains, could threaten 41 percent of air cargo flows, 37 percent of ocean traffic, and 25 percent of road haulage. These are BIG percentages! Why? A 2015 study by PriceWaterhouseCoopers found that fully 67 percent of manufacturers are adopting this technology. In 2015, Local Motors printed an entire electric car during the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. Aircraft engine parts, truck components, clothes and even food products are being ‘printed’. So how does the worldwide air cargo industry react? While some products can and will be made on-site, what will the industry carry?
The comments are those of the author and do not reflect the official position and policies of the N.C. Department of Transportation where the author is employed. They are presented to stimulate thought and discussion.
Charles H.W. Edwards
Chair – Education and Research Committee, TIACA