Digital Manufacturing Driving the Third Industrial Revolution
The digitization of manufacturing and the beginning of the third industrial revolution is the topic of a story and special report in a recent edition of The Economist. 3D printing plays an important role, according to the article.
In addition to advances in additive manufacturing, the article cites other changes and technologies that are driving the current manufacturing revolution. For example, carbon fiber is replacing steel and aluminum; nanotechnology is infiltrating products to create new, unusual and helpful features such as bandages that help heal cuts and engines that run better; and genetically engineered viruses are being used to make a more environmentally friendly lithium-ion battery. These and other disruptive technologies are accelerating the transition from the legacy of Henry Ford’s assembly line to the new world of digital manufacturing.
And what about jobs? The articles states, “Many people will look at the factories of the future and shudder. They will not be full of grimy machines manned by men in oily overalls. Many will be squeaky clean—and almost deserted. Some carmakers already produce twice as many vehicles per employee as they did only a decade or so ago. Most jobs will not be on the factory floor but in the offices nearby, which will be full of designers, engineers, IT specialists, logistics experts, marketing staff and other professionals.”
The special report referred to in this overview article takes a closer look at such phenomena as reshoring, new materials, more on 3D printing, and crowdsourcing. All very well worth the read.