3D Printing is an additive manufacturing process used to create three-dimensional objects based on digital models or scans. Three-dimensional components are ‘printed’ from raw materials, layer-by-layer.
Cool stuff relating to 3D printing
3D printing fits into supply chain by being a way to manufacture things.
The coolest part of it is that 3D printing is enabling the possibility of removing steps while at the same time speeding them up. Imagine you are running a mining operation in remote Western Australia which is a least 10 hours drive from anywhere else, your earth mover breaks down and you need to replace a gear. Rather then wait for a day for the parts to arrive, you order the parts and then download the temporary replacement schematics online. A 3D printer creates the part for you within 20 minutes while you have a break. You replace the part, get the machine back into service with significantly less downtime.
How realistic these scenarios are, is yet to be seen, but it is sure fun to imagine.