Additive Manufacturing Reshaping Logistics

By: George Small |  
George is a Principal Engineer at Moog Inc., working in the Space and Defense Group at Moog’s East Aurora, NY location.

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Imagine a scenario where lives depend upon a mission being flown off the deck of an aircraft carrier far out at sea. The only available aircraft has just been grounded with a failed critical part. There is no part inventory on the carrier. But we do have a 3d printer and a stock of powder aboard. A technical data package is available for the part, and a replacement is quickly printed.

You are the responsible person who needs to get this part quickly fitted to the aircraft and to sign the plane off as safe and ready to fly.  How would you know if the newly printed AM part you are holding in your hand is good for use?


Moog is both a consumer and supplier of additive manufactured parts. Through our early involvement in additive manufacturing we have been exposed to a range of forward looking AM use cases. At Moog, we can now see that additive manufacturing technologies will be key enablers for more digital, more connected and leaner workflows within the industrial, medical and aerospace businesses.

Although high volume piece part manufacturing costs can still favor traditional manufacturing methods, there are a host of overhead costs buried within our existing supply chains. AM offers the opportunity to reduce these costs as we move steadily toward web enabled on-demand manufacturing networks such as those being pioneered by Moog’s co-innovation partner SAP see:
SAP Launches Next Phase in Distributed Manufacturing Initiative
SAP launches 3D printing early access program to push forward digital manufacturing with UPS
Some of these cost reduction categories can be seen in the table here below.

These on-demand manufacturing networks hold the potential to benefit:

  • High quality rapid prototypes
  • Entrepreneurs and start-ups with limited capital access
  • Customized/tailored goods, “quantity of one” production runs
  • Spare parts that can be printed by end users on-demand at the point of use and time of need to reduce inventory and improve availability
    • A powerful new option for supporting in-service platforms


Like any disruptive new opportunity, on-demand AM manufacturing networks have challenges that must be addressed.  Challenges exist in three major areas:

Technology & Engineering

  • Different design principles and stress data for each different AM technology
  • Intensive investment in engineering training and process maturity is needed
  • Slight changes in material properties can make one-to-one replacements difficult (sometimes)
  • Extensive post-processing (heat-treat, machining…) are presently at lower levels of automation

Data Management

  • Future geographical and/or organizational separation of the design and production organizations requires a secure transfer of approved design data (i.e. build file, material specifications)
  • Design may only be printed on a qualified printer and must be authorized to print the part
  • Design and build data must be traceable against source requirements

Business Impacts

  • Local printing in comparison to centralized printing offers significant availability/lead time advantages for spare parts supply
  • Supporting platforms over decades of use
  • Intellectual property protection for design & printing data
  • Opens the door to new business models and modes of operation
  • Designs may be licensed for print by authorized end users
  • Subscription models for parts catalogs (think Netflix for AM Parts…)


In order to address the challenges mentioned above, Moog has been working with industry and government partners to develop a technology solution for digital enabled parts supporting up to the most critical, regulated applications. The solution, VeriPart® provides:

  • Provenance with Traceability on a per part basis
    • History of a part through the design-manufacture-use cycle per part (digital twin)
    • Secure data transport through the digital path
    • Digital rights management, licensable transactions
    • Authenticity of printed goods, assemblies
  • Leverages Blockchain shared distributed ledger technology
    • A shared database providing provenance and authenticity on a per part basis
      • Based upon Blockchain technology

Moog made a deliberate business decision to be part of the disruption caused by 3D printing and Blockchain versus being disrupted by them. We realized the greatest impact our business was going to be how these technologies upended the business models and supply chains employed by manufacturers today. Next, we will explore the impacts these disrupting technologies may have on supply chains and the emerging business models that may result.

You can hear Jim Regenor tell our story of 3D Printing and Blockchain Provenance at the MIT Blockchain for Business Technology Review on April 18th, 2017 in Cambridge, MA.

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George Small