The growing use of 3D printing will transform supply chains, allowing the advancement of new models, such as customer-managed inventory and 3D printing hubs, writes Len Pannett, principal consultant at operational strategy company Visagio. The technology also will simplify supply chains, allowing reduced inventory and cost reduction, particularly in logistics, "as the requirement for shipping and the need for third party warehousing and spares management is reduced," Pannett writes. In addition, companies will become more nimble and better able to respond to changes in demand and shortening product life cycles.

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