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Supply Chain Corporation Panalpina Embraces 3D Printing and Partners with Shapeways

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shapeways-logo-rgb-20141008Most people think of Shapeways as a site geared towards individual designers and buyers – and, for the most part, it is. It’s a great resource for up-and-coming designers to showcase their work, attract customers, and even launch a business. If you’re not a designer, it’s an excellent tool for learning about the capabilities of 3D printing and the difference between printing materials. Also, it’s a great Christmas shopping resource/dangerous trap leading you into spending way too much money.

PanalpinaThe appeal of Shapeways, however, goes beyond individual 3D printing enthusiasts and extends to major corporations, as evidenced by a new strategic partnership between Shapeways and the Panalpina Group, a Swiss provider of supply chain solutions. Among the central facets of their business are their Logistics Manufacturing Services (LMS), which include manufacturing assembly and testing, distribution, installation, and repair, among other services. In October, they bought their first 3D printer and began exploring the role additive manufacturing could play in their company, particularly in the LMS area. They were pleased with the results, and are now ready to further integrate 3D printing into their business.

“3D printing is one of the most exciting frontiers of digital transformation. It stands for the convergence of the real with the virtual world – and it has the potential to dramatically change the traditional manufacturing and logistics industries,” says Mike Wilson, Global Head of Logistics for Panalpina. “3D printing is ideal for bringing production closer to the end user and aiding in mass personalization.”

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Shapeways’ material offerings just keep growing.

By partnering with Shapeways, Panalpina now has access to the 3D printing platform’s wide range of printers, printing materials, and software solutions, not to mention the collective experience and expertise of the Shapeways staff. Shapeways, in return, benefits from Panalpina’s wide geographical and market range. The supply chain company has a presence in nine major industries, with around 500 offices in 75 countries, plus partner companies in an additional 90 countries, giving Shapeways potential opportunities for significant geographical expansion. In addition, Panalpina can offer Shapeways plenty of support in the areas of manufacturing, distribution and logistics.

“Panalpina is ideally suited to assist with the final steps in the manufacturing process including last-mile delivery,” said Shapeways CEO Peter Weijmarshausen. “In addition, they are investing in their own 3D printing research and capabilities. This demonstrates how committed and serious Panalpina is about the technology, making them an ideal partner for us.”

Panalpina’s next step towards more fully integrating 3D printing into their company is assessing which products can be switched from older manufacturing processes to 3D printing or other digital manufacturing techniques. They recently began two research projects in partnership with Cardiff University, whose engineering department has plenty of resources related to 3D design and printing. Wilson sees a lot of potential for the technology and the benefits it can offer Panalpina and their customers.

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“Because the value for the customer is added at the end of the supply chain, the brand owner can keep inventories, as well as the cost of transportation and obsolescence, to a minimum,” he said. “Moreover, additive manufacturing produces less waste than traditional manufacturing methods, which fits perfectly with increasingly circular economies.”

Welcome to the 3D printing world, Panalpina Group! Discuss this new partnership further over in the Shapeways Offers Panalpina Group Access to 3D Printing Solutions forum at 3DPB.com.

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