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Panalpina forges strategic partnership in 3D printing

July 29

Stuart Todd | Thursday, 28 July 2016

Swiss group sees 'disruptor' technology as complementing its Logistics Manufacturing Services (LMS) offering

Panalpina and the US-based 3D printing company, Shapeways have entered into a strategic partnership whose aim is to enable both companies to expand their digital manufacturing capabilities globally.

“3D printing is one of the most exciting frontiers of digital transformation,” said the Swiss group's global head of Logistics, Mike Wilson,

“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.”

He added: “3D printing is ideal for bringing production closer to the end user and aiding in mass personalization.”

Established in 2007, Shapeways describes itself as “the world’s leading maker platform powered by digital manufacturing.”

Its “community members” manufacture products ranging from puzzles, miniature trains and smartphone cases, to drone accessories and jewelry using high-end 3D printers in 56 different materials.

“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,” a joint statement reads.

Shapeways CEO Peter Weijmarshausen  said 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."

Panalpina recently launched two joint research projects with Cardiff University (UK), where the company aims to identify the products that could be switched from traditional to new, additive manufacturing techniques and also the impact these techniques will 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 is now positioned to take the business further, it said.

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