Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Tuesday, November 29, 2022

3D Printing – Bringing Manufacturing Home 

Paul Tate, executive editor of Manufacturing Exective, blogs that 3D printing could change the face of the manufacturing industry, eliminating supply chains, reshoring manufacturing to the U.S., and producing finished goods at their point of distribution.

Can additive manufacturing – a.k.a. 3D printing – bring new life to the U.S. manufacturing sector? 

The technology has been around for a while as a way to quickly and cost effectively print out physical prototypes of products before moving on to production.  But recently the trend has been to print out the final product itself (like the sneaker shown here) – especially if the manufacturing runs are not too long.

In an interesting blog, Paul Tate, executive editor of Manufacturing Executive, speculates that 3D printing might transform the entire manufacturing industry – an impact he compares to the introduction of the jet engine, the mobile phone, or electric car.

Writes Tate, “Industrially, some say it could utterly transform many manufacturing business models and supply chains, making the whole process of production radically different – cheaper, simpler, and much more flexible. Commercially, some say it could start a whole new consumer manufacturing revolution – taking the actual point of production directly to the point of customer need. Rapid delivery at the final point of consumer need.”

Supply chains would be shortened or eliminated.  Manufacturing in China and other overseas companies, along with the attendant shipping, would become a thing of the past. 

The transformation is already underway, Tate claims, citing GE, Airbus and auto companies as early adopters, using the technology to produce finished jet engine parts, entire aircraft wings, and car body parts.

However this trend plays out, it seems that additive manufacturing definitely falls into the category of disruptive technology. And, as Tate muses, “Perhaps this is how manufacturing eventually comes ‘home.’”

 

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