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Costs, Benefits, and Adoption of Additive Manufacturing: A Supply Chain Perspective



Douglas Thomas


Currently, additive manufactured products represent less than one percent of all manufactured products in the US; however, as the costs of additive manufacturing systems decrease, this technology may become widely adopted and change the supplier, manufacturer, and consumer interactions. This paper reviews the literature on additive manufacturing costs, identifies those instances in the literature where additive manufacturing is cost effective, proposes an approach for examining the total advantage of additive manufacturing, and discusses trends in the adoption of additive manufacturing. Current research on additive manufacturing costs reveals that this technology is cost effective for manufacturing small batches with continued centralized manufacturing; however, with increased automation distributed production may become cost effective. Due to the complexities of measuring additive manufacturing costs, current studies are limited in their scope. Many of the current studies examine the production of single parts and those that examine assemblies tend not to examine supply chain effects such as inventory and transportation costs along with decreased risk to supply disruption. The additive manufacturing system and the material costs constitute a significant portion of an additive manufactured product; however, these costs are declining over time. At its current rate of adoption and assuming additive manufacturing has a saturation level between 5 % and 35 % of the relevant sectors, it is forecasted that this technology might reach 50 % of market potential between 2031 and 2038, while reaching 100 % between 2058 and 2065. The industry would reach $50 billion between 2029 and 2031, while reaching $100 billion between 2031 and 2044. Since it is likely that additive manufacturing is at the far left tail of the diffusion curve, making it difficult to forecast the future trends, this forecast only gives some context to current growth rates.
International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology


supply chain


Thomas, D. (2016), Costs, Benefits, and Adoption of Additive Manufacturing: A Supply Chain Perspective, International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology, [online], (Accessed June 23, 2024)


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Created June 30, 2016, Updated June 24, 2021