Panalpina and Shapeways team up on 3D printing
Freight forwarder Panalpina and digital manufacturing specialist Shapeways have entered into a strategic partnership for 3D printing. In a statement issued on Tuesday (26 July), the two companies outlined why they want to work together: “With the strategic partnership, Panalpina will benefit from Shapeways’ advanced software solutions and in-depth know-how of 3D printing materials, equipment and processes. In return, Panalpina with its global footprint and facilities in major markets can offer Shapeways geographical expansion possibilities and support in logistics, manufacturing, distribution and other value-added services.”
Mike Wilson, Panalpina’s global head of Logistics, commented: “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.”
Wilson added he sees additional advantages of 3D printing besides the fact that products make it to market faster and can be personalized or customized at the latest possible stage.
“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,” said Wilson. “Moreover, additive manufacturing produces less waste than traditional manufacturing methods, which fits perfectly with increasingly circular economies.”
Panalpina recently launched two joint research projects with Cardiff University to identify which products could be switched from traditional to additive manufacturing techniques – and to explore the impact this would have on future supply chains. In October last year, Panalpina invested in its first 3D printer to get an understanding of how the technology works as a complement to its Logistics Manufacturing Services (LMS) offering. Having gone through this learning curve the company believes it is now positioned to take the business further.
Shapeways CEO Peter Weijmarshausen explained what he believes Panalpina brings to the partnership, particularly in terms of its logistics capabilities: “Panalpina is ideally suited to assist with the final steps in the manufacturing process including last-mile delivery. 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.”