Additive manufacturing in military and humanitarian missions: Advantages and challenges in the spare parts supply chain

Jelmar den Boer, Wim Lambrechts*, H.R. Krikke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This study focuses on the impact of Additive Manufacturing on the responsiveness, efficiency and sustainability of the spare parts supply chain of armed forces during military and humanitarian missions. These spare parts are slow movers, high tech and highly specific. As a consequence their demand is notoriously variable and difficult to forecast. At the same time they are mission critical. A systematic literature review, desk research of different cases, as well as semi-structured interviews with internal and external stakeholders within the Royal Netherlands Army demonstrate that Additive Manufacturing can reduce lead times, waste, energy use, spare parts inventories, as well as improve system readiness and sustainability of armed forces, specifically during military and humanitarian missions abroad. However, challenges must be met in particular related to energy use, local collaboration, (out-)sourcing, security and intellectual properties. This paper connects Additive Manufacturing and the growing importance of sustainability with the need for well-prepared operational armed forces and outlines an agenda for future research regarding mission based supply chains.
Original languageEnglish
Article number120301
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020


  • Additive manufacturing
  • Military
  • Mission based supply chain management
  • Purchasing
  • Responsiveness
  • Spare parts

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