The Future Of Manufacturing Is In America, With Robots and 3D Printing

Makerbot/CC BY 2.0

Picking up on the scandal over the fact that the American Olympic Team uniforms are made in China, Vivek Wadhwa writes in Foreign Policy Magazine that The Future of Manufacturing Is in America, Not China. He makes the case that robotics, artificial intelligence and 3D printing will make the chase for low-cost labor meaningless.

The real threat to China comes from technology. Technical advances will soon lead to the same hollowing out of China's manufacturing industry that they have to U.S industry over the past two decades.

It will also be much more personal, less mass production; there will be a "creator economy" in which mass production is replaced by personalized production, with people customizing designs they download from the Internet or develop themselves," which will be printed out at our local 3D Kinko's or "tech-space."

By the end of this decade, we will see 3D printers doing the small-scale production of previously labor-intensive crafts and goods. It is entirely conceivable that, in the next decade, manufacturing will again become a local industry and it will be possible to 3D print electronics and use giant 3D printing scaffolds to print entire buildings. Why would we ship raw materials all the way to China and then ship completed products back to the United States when they can be manufactured more cheaply locally, on demand?

I don't know what all the people are going to do, but that is another story. More in Foreign Policy

Tags: Dematerialization | Downloadable Design

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