Conversation: Additive Manufacturing and the Future of Global Supply Chains

Tune in to our next episode of DIGITAL SME Live about a technology that could revolutionise global supply chains in the next years: Additive Manufacturing.

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The COVID-19 crisis has painfully highlighted the shortcomings of traditional supply chains. Trying to protect their populace, states and even regions enforced border controls while struggling to procure necessary safety equipment. The digital sector wasn’t spared either, with IT businesses throughout Europe lamenting shortages of crucial hardware. All of this could change radically in the future thanks to additive manufacturing.

Traditional supply chains are the basis of physical products. They are cumbersome, expensive, polluting, and inhibit fast-paced innovation. Products get sent around the world for different steps in their assembly and value chain.

Digital products, on the other hand, have completely different value chains. They are ethereal, almost infinitely scalable, and can innovate at the speed of human imagination.

With the advent of additive manufacturing, i.e. 3D-printers and automated factories, a third category of products is possible: digital-physical products (DPPs). These are products which are designed virtually throughout the supply- and value chains and only become physical in the last steps of the process.

Currently, the vast majority of consumer products are still manufactured in the traditional way as physical products. This could change rapidly once additive manufacturing becomes more affordable at scale. The implications of an extensive shift from traditional physical to digital-physical products would be enormous: For instance, there would be a massively increased need for specialised skills in Europe, where already an estimated 1,000,000 digitally skilled workers are missing today. Unemployment could skyrocket when traditional manufacturers automate their operations.

But if Europe starts preparing for this shift now, we can land on the better side of the development. Bringing the supply chains closer to the end-markets would mean more innovation at a faster pace and a dramatically decreased ecologic footprint. Europe can build on its strong hi-tech industry and SME sectors and become a world-leading exporter of digital blueprints.

But what are the implications for digital SMEs? And will additive manufacturing ever become affordable at scale for them? Lin Kayser, CEO of the German startup Hyperganic, thinks so: “A century ago, if you wanted to transfer money, you loaded a wagon with bags of gold coins. Today, we routinely trade billions digitally and instantly. The same transformation will happen in the world of tangible objects, with the introduction of Digital Physical Products.”

We are happy to welcome him and other speakers to an episode of DIGITAL SME Live: “Additive Manufacturing and the Future of Global Supply Chains” on Monday 25 May at 13.30 CEST, live-streamed as usual on our YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter channels.

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Speakers

  • Lin Kayser, CEO of Hyperganic
  • Lucian Cernat, Chief Trade Economist of the European Commission
  • Stefano Capezzone, President at BluSistemi Spa

Moderator

  • Sebastiano Toffaletti, Secretary-General of DIGITAL SME

Tune in on Monday 25 May, 13.30 CEST by clicking on the icons below!