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Stainless steel medical equipment, robot gripper fingers made from plastic, custom packaging materials – DB Schenker customers can now have these and other goods 3D printed locally, saving on transport. Schenker is offering its 3D printing service through the eSchenker portal with immediate effect. Here companies can upload their 3D templates, choose the material and color, view prices, order printing and arrange delivery. DB Schenker does not own its own printers, instead using a digital business model across a partner network of startups and established firms.

The company believes there is demand in all manufacturing industries, particularly when it comes to rare and hard to obtain components or replacement parts made from metal. At present, possible materials for 3D printing are aluminum, stainless steel and plastic. Other materials such as titanium and combinations of materials are expected to follow. The service is partly the result of research work by the DB Schenker EnterpriseLab in Dortmund, which has been working with Fraunhofer IML since 2015 to investigate the prospects for additive manufacturing in logistics .