Major announcements on an Uber for 3D printing were announced in May that completely disrupt the additive manufacturing world. The reality of zero inventory and complete on demand manufacturing has arrived and it has CEOs in all industries, especially the supply chain industry talking about 3D printing.
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Uber for 3D Printing – Full Disruption Additive Manufacturing
Talking about some recent news about a major announcement involving UPS and an Uber for 3D printing. We have covered UPS on the podcast a couple of times, we went to one of the UPS stores in Kearny Mesa in the San Diego area last year. We did a deep dive into what UPS is doing with 3D printing. They have about 60 stores that do that. This is something different. This news is really being dubbed about an “Uber for 3D printing.” I am going to talk what it is and get into whether I agree this is really an Uber or an Uberization of manufacturing as it has been coined in the media, don’t know that I agree that it’s an Uber for 3D printing.
UPS has partnered up with a company called Fast Radius. They are launching what they are calling the Uber for manufacturing. I think we know what UPS is. They are a major international distribution company. They move boxes. They got a network and they do it better or as well as anybody on earth. We can all understand that.
Fast Radius is a high quality prototype manufacturer for lack of any other description. Their tagline is, “High quality parts in as fast as one day.” It is not all 3D printing. It is CNC machining, cast urethane parts, even injection molding – I don’t understand how you can do that in a day. There is something about in house injection molding and being able to do it faster than you can probably do it anywhere else, which I would believe. Additive manufacturing with all of the different kinds of 3D printing is also what they do.
They are a big established company that was founded by two major entrepreneurs who have each have been founders of CEOs in their major companies. These are pretty heavy hitters. Fast Radius, what they did in setting up their operations is that they have setup this manufacturing facility or facilities at UPS supply chain campuses. UPS same as FedEx or same as any major distribution operation that moves boxes around the world, they have hubs. It is a hub and spoke operation.
I can remember FedEx started in Memphis, Tennessee. You can send a package from Boston to New York, but it got to New York from Boston by going through Memphis. Every plane went from where it was to the hub, and then at two or three in the morning, it changed to a different plane to where it was on the spoke, and then your packages would get there. In a simple sense, that is the hub and spoke concept. Today, UPS and FedEx have many different hubs. Not every package goes to Memphis anymore. It may go to different cities. So, they very specifically and intentionally built their operations and manufacturing facilities at the UPS supply chain campus.
This is very smart. This is something that lots of companies have done, not necessarily in terms of manufacturing, but distribution. When they place themselves at that hub, they don’t have the same deadline for shipping an overnight package for just getting the package in to the system. Where it’s like if you don’t get it to UPS by 5 pm or you don’t go to the FedEX office by 7 pm, you miss the cut off time and your package won’t get there within the normal amount of quoted days. When you are at the hub, they give you till midnight or 1 am, because they are open 24/7. You just catch the second leg of the transportation of the flights or where the trucks are going out. You don’t go to the first leg of that. It saves you money. There is a discount for shipping for doing that as well because it is easier for them they only have to transport it to the second half of their normal system.
Placing themselves at that supply chain campus is really a good idea. I remember back when one of these companies bought out Airborne in the 1990s that was another big player, and they also did the overnight two days shipping thing. I remember a lot of companies back before internet buying where you have Mac Connection and PC connection catalogues, there whole distribution warehouse was at the Airborne shipyard. You could order a product as late as 11pm on a given day and you will get it the next morning if you shipped it and chose overnight shipping. They could still pick it and put a label on it and get it into their system because they are at the hub.
This is smart and makes a lot of sense. If you want to distribute fast parts to people, set yourself up in combination with a good distribution partner and put it right at their campus so you can do that. What they are calling this is a fully distributed manufacturing platform. They are connecting the 60 of the UPS stores that already have the mid level 3D printers, which are commercial and most are Stratasys machines. They are connecting it to and having that involved in an advanced production platform run by a real parts manufacturer which is Fast Radius.
This partnership is a big deal. It makes a lot of sense. I think it is very powerful. But is that really the Uber for 3D printing? I think that is a bit of an overused term or it is becoming cliché. Whenever anybody wants to do something major in business, they think it is significant and they call it, “I am going to be the Uber of this and that.” I hear a lot and I grow tired of it. I don’t see how this is Uber or Uberization of manufacturing. It is coming to you, but so what? Amazon is coming to you. Is everything that is shipped from Amazon the Uber of big box retail? I don’t think that the analogy is really there. I think it is overused at minimum. While I like the idea of this and I think lots of companies need fast parts and they need a reliable source to get fast prototype parts, these guys to do a great job of it for sure.
Is this really going to disrupt things? To me, the Uber for 3D printing, would be the concept of this patent that Amazon filed for mobile 3D printing like on a truck. The idea that your delivery trucks would drive around and the order would be sent to the truck wirelessly and the 3D printer on the truck would be printing the part. The truck, when it is done, would be on its normal route of delivery delivering it to you. To me, that is the Uber of 3D printing. Is it practical or will it happen? I don’t think it will happen anytime soon, if at all. There is a whole host of issues with 3D printing on a moving truck among other things. Those of us that operate 3D printers know how very tricky and finicky it can be even if you use high end commercial printers. Maybe theirs is a little bit more robust and isn’t as sensitive in terms of set up, or vibrations won’t hurt it as much or throw it off.
The idea that a driver is going to easily be able to drive a route and deliver the packages and also manage the 3D printer and deliver that part when it is done; I don’t know. It would be cool if they do it. I am not knocking the concept. I think it is a great concept. But I just don’t know if that is going to be very practical. Shipping it makes more sense in getting it done right in a facility that is not moving around the world and ship it there. That is not Uber. I am hung up on that.
Sometimes, these writers on the internet or on magazines, they are trying to get lots of people to read their article and they choose a really catchy headline that they know is going to get a lot of attention, clicks, and people read it. “The Uber of anything” gets a lot of people’s attention. Using this term is a click bait thing which is not our intention just to put it out there. Maybe you won’t believe me on this, our intent to do this is not to use it as a click bait headline, but because that is what is being talked about here in the last couple of months with this arrangement between UPS and Fast Radius.
We just want to talk about it and debunk it a little bit or talk about the reality of it. It is a very sound and smart business plan for rapid prototyping and distribution of those parts, it makes perfect sense. But I don’t know. Can we stop it the Uber of everything? And just call it Modern Prototype Part Distribution. That is not a sexy name… Anyway, it is the reality of it.
I love it. Glad that UPS and Fast Radius is doing it. They are teaming up with HP 3D printers and they are going to be involved in the Fast Radius stuff. Still, it is not just Uber. Uber is a multibillion dollar corporation on its own.
Tracy, about a month ago, interviewed Walter O’Brien from Scorpion, the tv show on CBS. To just quickly put it up there, Scorpion is a real thing. It is a real company working for the government and private individuals and companies all over the world in solving problems that only a genius can solve. It is pretty damn cool. You can look them up on the internet. The point is, Walter O’Brien told this great story about Uber and about how he personally believes that there is a possibility or a relative certainty, which I don’t necessarily agree with even if he is a true genius; things that self driving cars like the Tesla and Google, will eventually cause an economic collapse in the United States and a major recession or depression unlike anything we have seen.
If you have these self driving cars in Dubai, this is already a normal everyday thing. You call an Uber and what comes up is a Tesla that is not being driven by a person. It is completely driven by a computer and you push on the touchscreen where you want to go and it takes you there. You can also summon it with an app and it sends one of these cars to pick you up. This is really happening. There is news about Tesla that was on autopilot mode that crashed and somebody died. That is terrible. Regardless, this self driving driverless car thing is really happening.
He is talking about there is going to come a point where there is really for the majority of Americans no reason to own a car. You are going to just call in an Uber and they will take you where you want to go. The major highways in the country or on the major cities or two extreme coasts of the US, they are only going to allow self driving cars. If all these cars are programmed with how fast they can go and when they can go and it is all coordinated, you will not have traffic accidents. No one will ever get hurt. Almost all of the crashes are due to human error. Self driving cars will really eliminate that possibility. I believe that.
If you have all these cars available in the Uber system that can go and pick you up, why do you need to own a car? You don’t need to. If these driverless cars are the norm, then everybody doesn’t need a car. Now, you will have a collapse in the auto industry worldwide. Sales will plummet. Self driving cars with Uber will put real Uber drivers out of work. Uber is the largest employer in terms of number of employees in the country right now. They got so huge so fast. They were trying to fight that they weren’t employees, but they are now. The courts ruled on that.
If you put all these people out of work, when you get to an unemployment level of north of 30%, that is where you start to have economic collapse. This is a big rabbit hole discussion that he took a stand on. It was fascinating but the one thing that I don’t agree with about this despite him being a brilliant and smart man, he is sort of a guy that is very intelligent but he doesn’t have a lot of emotional intelligence. He’s got a high IQ, but very low EQ. That is what they say. He doesn’t have an emotional attachment to a whole lot of anything apparently. He certainly doesn’t have an emotional attachment to a car.
I got my grandmother’s 1972 Volkswagen Karman Ghia. I have been riding it since I was 2 or 3 years old. I will have that car till the day I die, I love it. I will not give it up. Lots of Americans enjoy driving as dangerously as it is. As flawed as we are as human beings that we make mistakes and get accidents, people like driving. They like the freedom of it. That whole aspect of it, he didn’t really consider. I don’t think that actual sort of a prediction is not going to come true. Although I do think that self driving cars will become more significant. I think Uber will own a lot of them. No question. But anyway, that is something that deserves an Uber headline in my opinion; a discussion or a story like that. I thought that I would bring that one up again.
There you have it, let me know what you think about this whole thing on an uber for 3D printing. Is the Uber headline just a click bait or overused? Or am I wrong because this manufacturing distribution platform is the Uber for 3D printing? Let’s hear it, leave us a comment or send us an email info@3dstartpoint. You can reach out on social media @3dstartpoint or @hazzdesign.
- Fast Radius
- Announcements From UPS, SAP, HP And Fast Radius Mark A Historic Turning Point For Manufacturing
- Amazon Mobile 3D Printing
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