Expansion of 3D printing operations planned by UPS (United Parcel Service). They plan to expand its 3D printing service to Asia and Europe, the U.S. shipping company has told Reuters, in a bid to fully embrace and get ahead of a trend that threatens to eat away a small but lucrative part of its business.
Aside from its main package delivery service, United Parcel Service gets an undisclosed portion of its revenue from storing and shipping parts for manufactures. If those customers were to switch to 3D printing their own parts, that business would face a drastic reduction.
To counter that threat, UPS has chosen to get on board the 3D revolution, and is now looking to offer a service in which UPS will print out plastic parts – anything from nozzles to brackets to prototype soap dispensers or multi-faceted moving parts – around the world and deliver them. 3D printing is a great opportunity for us, but it’s also a threat,” Alan Amling,United Parcel Service vice president for corporate strategy, told Reuters. The dynamic – welcoming rather than fighting a threatening new technology – is not unlike automakers such as Toyota Motor Corp and Volkswagen AG teaming up with ride-hailing services Uber and Gett, respectively.
Amling said UPS is looking at either Singapore or Japan for an Asian 3D printing factory. He did not say where the company might open a European facility, though UPS’s operational hub in Europe is in Cologne, Germany.
UPS has already got into the business in its home market. In May, it launched a U.S.-based 3D printing service with Fast Radius, a 3D printing company based outside Atlanta, where United Parcel Service is headquartered. UPS bought an unspecified stake in Fast Radius, which has a 3D printing factory atouisvil UPS’s Lle, Kentucky, hub.There are also now 3D printers at 60 UPS stores in the United States that print parts using industrial grade thermoplastics. Customers can upload images for printing at the Fast Radius factory or at one of those UPS stores and have the printed products shipped to any location.