Service Levels in Make-to-Order Production: 3D Printing Applications

  • Carl Philip T. Hedenstierna
  • Stephen M. Disney
  • Jan Holmström


Consumer 3D printing services offering to print customer’s models on-demand must achieve high service with the available capacity. While the bulk of production tends to come from in-house capacity, overtime is also viable for managing demand peaks. This chapter shows how 3D printers can manage their order book releases to deliver on time, while keeping production costs low. Applying order book smoothing to a numerical case reveals a cost–service trade-off that is not convex, as typically seen in inventory models, but of sigmoid type. This results in two attractive configurations: atrocious service at a minimal cost, or near-perfect service at a higher cost.


  1. Anderson, E. G., Morrice, D. J., & Lundeen, G. (2005). The ‘Physics’ of Capacity and Backlog Management in Service and Custom Manufacturing Supply Chains. System Dynamics Review, 21(3), 217–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Axsäter, S. (2006). Inventory Control. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  3. Balakrishnan, A., Geunes, J., & Pangburn, M. S. (2004). Coordinating Supply Chains by Controlling Upstream Variability Propagation. Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, 6(2), 163–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Denyer, D., Tranfield, D., & Van Aken, J. E. (2008). Developing Design Propositions Through Research Synthesis. Organization Studies, 29(3), 393–413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Disney, S. M., Gaalman, G. J. C., Hedenstierna, C. P. T., & Hosoda, T. (2015). Fill Rate in a Periodic Review Order-Up-To Policy Under Auto-Correlated Normally Distributed, Possibly Negative, Demand. International Journal of Production Economics, 170(Part B), 501–512.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Forrester, J. W. (1961). Industrial Dynamics. Cambridge, MA: MIT press.Google Scholar
  7. Hedenstierna, C. P. T. (2016). Staggered Deliveries in Production and Inventory Control. Cardiff: Cardiff University.Google Scholar
  8. Hedenstierna, C. P. T., & Disney, S. M. (2012, February 20–24). Impact of Scheduling Frequency and Shared Capacity on Production and Inventory Costs. 17th International Working Seminar on Production Economics. Innsbruck, pp. 277–288.Google Scholar
  9. Hedenstierna, C. P. T., & Disney, S. M. (2018). Avoiding the Capacity Cost Trap: Three Means of Smoothing Under Cyclical Production Planning. International Journal of Production Economics, 201, 149–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hedenstierna, P., & Ng, A. H. C. (2011). Dynamic Implications of Customer Order Decoupling Point Positioning. Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, 22, 1032–1042.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Holmström, J., Holweg, M., Khajavi, S. H., & Partanen, J. (2016). The Direct Digital Manufacturing (R)evolution: Definition of a Research Agenda. Operations Management Research, 9(1-2), 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hosoda, T., & Disney, S. M. (2012). On the Replenishment Strategy When the Market Demand Information is Lagged in a Supply Chain. International Journal of Production Economics, 135, 458–467.Google Scholar
  13. Kingsman, B. G., Tatsiopoulos, I. P., & Hendry, L. C. (1989). A Structural Methodology for Managing Manufacturing Lead Times in Make-to-Order Companies. European Journal of Operational Research, 40(2), 196–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Mingers, J. (2015). Helping Business Schools Engage with Real Problems: The Contribution of Critical Realism and Systems Thinking. European Journal of Operational Research, 242(1), 316–331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Pawson, R., & Tilley, N. (1997). Realistic Evaluation. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  16. Shapeways. (2016). Materials Shipping Status Page—Shapeways [Online]. Retrieved May 28, 2016, from
  17. Silver, E. A., & Bischak, D. P. (2011). The Exact Fill Rate in a Periodic Review Base Stock System Under Normally Distributed Demand. OMEGA: The International Journal of Management Science, 39, 346–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Sobel, M. J. (2004). Fill Rates of Single-Stage and Multistage Supply Systems. Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, 6(1), 41–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Sterman, J. D. (2000). Business Dynamics: Systems Thinking and Modeling for a Complex World. New York: McGraw-Hill Education.Google Scholar
  20. Stevenson, M., Hendry, L. C., & Kingsman, B. G. (2005). A Review of Production Planning and Control: The Applicability of Key Concepts to the Make-to-Order Industry. International Journal of Production Research, 43(5), 869–898.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Wikner, J., Naim, M. M., & Rudberg, M. (2007). Exploiting the Order Book for Mass Customized Manufacturing Control Systems with Capacity Limitations. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, 54, 145–155.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carl Philip T. Hedenstierna
    • 1
  • Stephen M. Disney
    • 1
  • Jan Holmström
    • 2
  1. 1.University of Liverpool Management SchoolLiverpoolUK
  2. 2.Department of Industrial Engineering and ManagementAalto UniversityEspooFinland

Personalised recommendations