SINGAPORE: Businesses in the region will soon have the option of sending in orders for three-dimensional (3D)-printed parts and having them delivered within 24 hours, with a new 3D printing factory announced by United Parcel Service (UPS) on Monday (Sep 19).
The factory, which is expected to open in Singapore by the end of the year, will be run by the delivery company's US-based partner Fast Radius.
Also known as additive manufacturing, 3D printing works by laying down successive levels of material - typically plastic or metal - to create an object.
Once the facility opens, customers will be able to place their 3D printing orders either through the Fast Radius website or directly at the factory. The orders will then be directed to either the Singapore or the US depending on the speed, location and product quality requirements, the company said.
UPS, which owns an undisclosed stake in digital manufacturing firm Fast Radius, rolled out a similar 3D printing network in the US in May, offering the service at a Fast Radius factory and 60 UPS stores equipped with 3D printers. It also has plans to build a 3D printing hub in Europe.
UPS Asia Pacific president Ross McCullough said the company expects 3D printing to have a "significant impact" on industrial manufacturing and 21st century supply chains.
"We believe that much like how e-commerce digitised and transformed retail, 3D printing will have a similar impact on manufacturing," he said.
The new 3D printing and logistics network will "vastly" change how manufacturing companies in Singapore and the region operate, especially at the prototyping stage before products are brought to market, added UPS Singapore managing director Michelle Ho.
This development aligns with the Government's plans, announced in 2013, to set aside S$500 million over five years to support a Future of Manufacturing programme focusing on new enabling technologies and business models such as 3D printing.
The Economic Development Board's director of logistics Lee Eng Keat said 3D printing could potentially transform supply chains.
"The decision to locate the first international on-demand 3D printing factory here is testimony to Singapore's readiness to partner with logistics companies in creating innovative supply chain solutions," he added.