Now, with that title of the article most people must be wondering how 3DP can help the postal department. In the past we have seen that 3DP have influenced almost all the sectors in a very influential and positive way. 3DP has made the traditional way of working and manufacturing ultra modern. So is 3DP trying to revolutionize the United States Postal Services (USPS)?

With the rise of modern technology the traditional means of communication has lost its path. Many post offices are shutting down since people have turned to mobiles and emails for communicating. There are very few who actually use the facilities of the postal department. In this dark hour for the postal there seems to be a ray of hope coming from the 3DP industry. The rise of 3D printing represents a significant growth opportunity for the US Postal Service. According to the report which was issued by the USPS Office of Inspector General, says that the annual package revenue has risen by $500 million. This report also analyzes the prospects of a new innovative technology i.e. 3D printing which will surely improve the future financial health of the agency.

3D objects that are build by layering plastic, powder, metal or any other material. The products that are made by 3D printing are highly customized so with each passing day the demand for these 3D printed objects is increasing. According to the new report which was compiled by the economic consulting firm Christensen Associates, “If It Prints, It Ships: 3D Printing and the Postal Service,” reports that the USPS can’t wait for 3DP to go mainstream. If this happens then the present trend of containerized cargos delivering thousands of items over long distances will collapse and a new trend either people will start of ordering customized objects online which would then be printed at local centers and will be delivered the very same day, or bring in a 3D printers. The first possibility that the Christensen Associates estimates is that, “3D printing could raise the Postal Service’s annual package revenue by $485 million as businesses ship increasing numbers of 3D printed goods to consumers.” As for the second source of increased revenues,, “If people someday print many items directly, they may frequently need 3D printing supplies such as powders and binding materials delivered.” The report further says, “No other organization covers as much ground as frequently and reliably as the Postal Service.”

With the people accepting 3D printing whole heartedly, items can be manufactured closer to where the consumer lives and the requirement of last-mile delivery will rise which will throw the ball back into the court of the Postal Department which still maintains the largest last mile network in the country. The strength of the network is undeniable it delivers to approximately 153 million addresses across the United States of America. It has around 211,000 vehicles which annually cover a distance of over 1.2 billion miles. Most importantly it is a source of livelihood for nearly 114, 000 rural carriers and nearly 198, 000 city carriers. As companies shift from expensive and duplicate warehousing to just in time inventory the USPS could reap the benefits of this shift and then finely tune itself to the projected annually package revenue to $500 million.

The auditors said, “We have not yet begun to see the rise of new businesses taking advantage of this technological revolution, and we are only in the early stages of new citizen demand for mass customization, by establishing a role in the 3D printing market, the Postal Service could put a compelling 21st century twist on its historical mission to serve citizens and facilitate commerce.” The USPS IG said that the direction in which the 3D printing industry takes is still unclear but it’s very important for the postal to stay on the forefront.

3D printing will undoubtedly is all set to revolutionize our world and bring in a new wave of innovation both in factories and at homes all over the world. The expected trends if proves to be right then a large portion of postal service’s deficit without lying off more workers or raising the price of stamps can be easily done. In the near future when 3D printing goes main stream and the postal department captures the entire delivery market, the private delivery companies will opt for something more creative in order to cater to the needs of the people of this vast country. Most probably we would see Amazon drones flying over heads and delivering packages or 3D printing materials to the most rural areas of the country irrespective of the distance and the location of the consumer.

But if the Postal Agency wants to survive through this era of competition where the delivery companies are coming up with new schemes of instant delivery and 24 hours delivery, it is high time for the agency to think of some strategy beyond its partnership with the 3D printers in order to survive through this tough time.

Image Source: tales of a wandering youkai (flickr credit: z0)