Game changer or threat: The impact of 3D printing on the logistics supplier circular supply chain

Yu Xiong, Hui Lu, Gendao Li, Senmao Xia, Zhaoxing Wang, Yifan Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)


3-Dimensional Printing (3DP) has been widely used in the circular supply chain. Still, most of the literature focused on addressing only the manufacturer's adoption of 3DP and how it influences the supply chain. A growing number of non-manufacturer (e.g., logistic suppliers) have adopted 3DP, but its impact on manufacturers and customers is still underexplored. This paper uses a two-player single-period supply chain model, supported by an in-depth interview, to investigate how the logistics supplier's 3DP adoption impacts the circular supply chain in the spare parts aftersales market. The findings show that cost reduction of 3DP does not always benefit the logistics supplier. Still, this finding opens a new revenue stream for the logistics supplier and the integrated supply chain. Further, the manufacturer can financially benefit from such adoption only when the cost of 3DP production is relatively high. Interestingly, the logistics supplier can use 3DP adoption as a game-changer to become a new "green manufacturer", thereby posing a strategic threat that can influence the traditional manufacturer's decisions regarding financial benefits. Customers can also enjoy more surplus when logistics suppliers adopt low-cost 3DP. This study is one of the first to investigate how non-manufacturer 3DP adoption impacts the circular supply chain.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)461-475
Number of pages15
JournalIndustrial Marketing Management
Early online date23 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022

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  • 3D Printing
  • Circular supply chain
  • Logistics supplier
  • Manufacturers


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