Thursday, September 27, 2012

Factory of the Future

 The world is getting smaller. Technology has made our world faster, cheaper more responsive to change and, you guessed it,  smaller. Behold the new face of manufacturing the 3-D printer. Now, the 3-D printer has been around for a while, however, with recent advancements in 3-D printing technology the printer is cheaper and more effective. early models could only form 3-D models of resins and plastics, new models can print metals like steel, silver and even materials like ceramic and wood. In the future every mass produced object from cars to plastic key chains to furniture could be manufactured using 3-D printing technology. Traditional manufacturing used a method of subtractive processing where as materials where taken away i.e. drilling, molding etc,. What makes 3-D printing so exciting is it cheapens the process by using additive processing by where by layer of layer of material is formed to make a three dimensional model. This process removes the need for assembling parts from individual processes. For example an entire car could just merely be printed rather than each individual part be molded and then put together; no parts, no rivets, just one whole piece. Any entrepreneur with just a three dimensional design, and a few thousand bucks, could manufacture a product with little to no help.

This technology is cheap. The average 3-D printer costs about $1500 to $5000. Compare that to the average piece of factory equipment and you can see why the technology is so promising. Literally anything can be made with just a 3-D computer design. In fact recently a gunsmith manufactured an AR-15 with a 3-D printer. This huge leap in scientific advancement has many over-arching repercussions to consider. One being the manufacture of weapons by anyone in the privacy of their own home, Ted Kaczynski 2020? Furthermore, where will these leave the worlds unskilled labor force if manpower is no longer needed due to the ease of production. Businesses are becoming smaller and smaller, like the rest of our world, and with the evolution of business and manufacturing many will have to adapt greatly to overcome. This new technology opens the door for a great many of possiblities both good and bad I think it will be interesting to watch it's development.                                                   
Factory of the Future

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