3D Printing: Disruptive Technology & Logistics



George Abbatt, Director; and Emma Griffith, Senior Director: Global Infrastructure & Project Finance; Fitch Ratings, New York, USA


The days of conventional machining by means of dies, presses and hammers appear to be numbered with computer aided design (CAD) software, materials science and other technologies that 3D printing relies on becoming more advanced in recent years. Already a revolutionary practice for several industries, 3D printing (3DP) will prove to be a disruptive technology for logistics and how goods are transported across the world.

3% for 3DP by 2037

We expect 3DP to grow significantly over the next 20 years, potentially reaching about 3% of total global manufacturing. 3DP is less labour intensive than traditional manufacturing and could reduce reliance on lower-wage countries for product assembly, which is a key driver of the US-China bilateral trade imbalance.

In addition, as mass production via 3DP becomes more economically feasible, supply chains could be shortened with more manufacturing carried out locally. Net goods transportation may reduce as a result, negatively affecting transportation infrastructure’s revenue.

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