Motivated by the rising costs of doing business overseas and the rise and implementation of digital technologies in production, new strategies are being explored to bring production and demand closer. While concepts like cloud computing, internet of things, and digital manufacturing increasingly gain relevance within the production activities of manufacturing companies, significant advances in three‐dimensional (3D) printing technologies offer the possibility for companies to accelerate product development and to consider new supply chain models. Under this production scheme, material supply chains are redefined and energy consumption hotspots are relocated throughout the life cycle of a product. This implies a diversification of energy mixes and raw material sources that poses a risk of shifting problems between life cycle phases and areas of protection. This study compares a conventional mass scale centralized manufacturing system against a 3D printing‐supported distributed manufacturing system on the basis of the production of one frame for eyeglasses using the life cycle assessment methodology. The study indicates clearly that the optimization potential is concentrated mainly in the energy consumption at the unit process level and exposes a close link to the printing material employed.