Thesis subject

How 3D Printing Impacts the Agriculture and Food Supply Chain

3D printing is a disruptive technology that caters for mass customisation of products and the production process. It has thus the potential to disrupt the manufacturing value chain, as it creates a shift from mass production to full customisation.
Imagine a component fails in your manufacturing plant. Why order a replacement when you can just print your own and be back online in an hour rather than waiting for a delivery from your supplier? Not only is this more efficient, but it also removes the outsourcing costs. Likewise, imagine your customers want products with different configurations. Why change the manufacturing set up, when the same 3D printer can produce the product with the desired variations.

Therefore, the question remains of how does this technology impact traditional long-standing supply chains? What does the agri-food supply chain look like with the emergence of 3D printing technologies? Do they cater for mass customisation and how do they achieve this? Could the technology become an alternative to conventional manufacturing in the long-term?

3D printers have a wide variety of applications and cater the mass production of highly customised/bespoke products on the shop-floor. The available materials for printing are also diverse, ranging from petrol-based plastics and plant starch-based fused deposition modelling to food-based printing.


    1. To review the current state-of-the art 3D printing technologies suitable for agri-food supply chain
    2. To identify which applications of 3D printing are feasible in (1) manufacturing process and (2) in customization of products
    3. To assess which agri-food sectors and agri-food products benefit the most from 3D printing


      • Le-Bail, Alain, Bianca Chieregato Maniglia, and Patricia Le-Bail. "Recent advances and future perspective in additive manufacturing of foods based on 3D printing." Current Opinion in Food Science 35 (2020): 54-64.
      • Baiano, Antonietta. "3D printed Foods: A comprehensive review on technologies, nutritional value, safety, consumer attitude, regulatory framework, and economic and sustainability issues." Food Reviews International (2020): 1-31.
      • Nazir, Aamer, Aashir Azhar, Usman Nazir, Yun-Feng Liu, Waqar S. Qureshi, Jia-En Chen, and Eisa Alanazi. "The rise of 3D Printing entangled with smart computer aided design during COVID-19 era." Journal of Manufacturing Systems (2020).
      • Ramachandraiah, Karna. "Potential Development of Sustainable 3D-Printed Meat Analogues: A Review." Sustainability 13, no. 2 (2021): 938.

      Requirements (optional)

        Theme(s): 3D Printing, Supply Chain, Manufacturing, Additive Manufacturing

        Contact person(s)

        Will Hurst (
        Ayalew Kassahun (