Additive manufacturing is becoming more common for individualized products, and quickly expanding its capabilities. Already these capabilities focus on the plastics/polymers, UFPT's raw materials. So will this become a long-term threat to the UFPT business model?
This has very little to do with UFPT. 3D systems are used for model building and UFPT uses them. The final product is a composite and 3D cannot deal with that. Injection molding is still the gold standard as the cost is crazy low.
Who's to say UFP won't be utilizing this new technology to manufacture their products when it eventually does become widespread? Unlike eBooks, it isn't the product itself that might be rendered obsolete, just the current method of producing it.
You're probably right.
But publishers may be a poor example - I understand technological changes have book publishers really sweating now. E-books where most profits are taken by the seller, and which also push the demise of the physical bookstore where their books are showcased, and budding authors publishing themselves instead of developing relationships with publishers. So what will be a publisher's purpose, coordinating the distribution of dead trees?
If additive manufacturing ever does impact protective packaging, it will be on the high-end, complex, limited-run products where UFPT does business. Cardboard box makers would have far less worry.