UPS Teams Up With SAP and Fast Radius to Make On-Demand 3D Printing a Reality

UPS is slowly expanding beyond their logistics empire, delivering packages to homes and businesses around the globe and are now transforming into an on-demand manufacturer as well. The company’s shift from shipping goods to producing them is being led by their investments in 3D printing.

UPS and SAP are collaborating to bring together both of companies strengths and focusing this energy on additive manufacturing technology. UPS is leveraging their logistics expertise while SAP is using their business process expertise and Leonardo next-generation technology platform in order to achieve their new goal.

Additive manufacturing is nothing new to UPS with many small-scale 3D printers being implemented in their stores. But UPS’ new intention for the technology could potentially change the nature of manufacturing, according to the company’s Vice President of Corporate Strategy, Alan Amling, who noticed the rapid advancement of 3D printing and the concept of digital transformation begin to take hold.

“We saw that, if these trends continue, it was going to be a big thing for an industrial production, and we are a key part of the industrial supply chain,” Amling said. “At that time, I was setting up our global marketing for logistics and distribution, and one of our big products was service parts logistics. And it still is as we have over a thousand field stocking locations around the world where companies store their parts.” (

With the cost and quality of additive manufacturing improving the technology’s viability for businesses, UPS wanted to develop a facility where spare parts can be 3D printed and shipped whenever and wherever needed. Although, Amling notes that while UPS knows all about manufacturing logistics, the company knows very little about manufacturing itself. That’s where the company ‘Fast Radius’ comes in, one of UPS’s most recent investments. Fast Radius specializes in additive manufacturing technology and these experts are capable of building the on-demand 3D printing facility that the company wants to develop.

SAP concluded that spare parts were the first practical way for industrial manufacturers to take advantage of additive manufacturing technology, according to Gil Perez, SAP’s Senior Vice President of Digital Assets and Internet of Things. “3D printing, until now, has been very much engineering-driven or product innovation-driven, but what has been missing from it is, when you move to industrial manufacturing, the numbers matter,” Perez said. (

SAP’s Leonardo lets UPS enable three key processes in their 3D printing network. It is used to digitize and simplify the parts approvals. The system can also calculate the financial viability of 3D printing the parts versus traditional manufacturing methods. Finally, Leonardo helps to route the orders from production to delivery.

All of this technology sounds like a major step forward for UPS’ ambitious goal of reaching complete on-demand manufacturing. If these facilities come to fruition they can completely revolutionize how manufacturers handle spare part purchasing. Manufacturing Talk Radio will keep a close eye on UPS’ latest manufacturing developments so keep checking back for more information.


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