As we covered in our series on the manufacturing trends affecting American Manufacturing, 3D printing, an advanced manufacturing technology, is a huge trend many believe will transform the way manufacturing is done all together. Currently, the US ranks as the largest market, accounting for nearly 60% of the overall market. The global 3-D printing market is estimated to reach $2.99 billion by 2018, according to a new global strategic business report from Global Industry Analysts (GIA), spurred by the increasing user adoption, ongoing technological advancements and benefits the technology allows. The leader of this type of advanced manufacturing technology, is in the medical/dental industries with forecasts to exceed $865 million by 2025. Often, in general, 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is seen as a part of the new face of manufacturing trend fueling the resurgence of global manufacturing, commonly referred to as Advanced Manufacturing.
According to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology Report to the President on Ensuring American Leadership in Advanced Manufacturing:
Advanced Manufacturing technology is “a family of activities that (a) depend on the use and coordination of information, automation, computation, software, sensing, and networking, and/or (b) make use of cutting edge materials and emerging capabilities enabled by the physical and biological sciences, for example nanotechnology, chemistry, and biology. This involves both new ways to manufacture existing products, and especially the manufacture of new products emerging from new advanced technologies.”
In addition, according to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology Report to the President on Capturing Domestic Competitive Advantage in Advanced Manufacturing:
Advanced Manufacturing is not limited to emerging technologies; rather, it is composed of efficient, productive, highly integrated, tightly controlled processes across a spectrum of globally competitive U.S. manufacturers and suppliers. For advanced manufacturing to accelerate and thrive in the United States, it will require the active participation of communities, educators, workers, and businesses, as well as Federal, State, and local governments.
The Wall Street Journal touted Advanced Manufacturing as “A Revolution in the Making” with the byline “Advanced Manufacturing technology is transforming manufacturing, making it leaner and smarter—and raising the prospect of an American industrial revival.” The article touts such prolific manufacturers, in various verticles, such as GE, Nike, and 3D systems, a leader in the 3D printing evolution. The article, however, also notes that we can’t pin a “resurgence” of manufacturing jobs on the Advanced Manufacturing map. They say Advanced Manufacturing will increase efficiency, making manufacturers’ bottom lines better, but will not mean the manufacturing jobs we have come to know in America. The repetitive tasks will be replaced by robotics and the types of jobs that will open up from the increased use of Advanced Manufacturing will require much more education and skills.
But, is this a bad thing? If we can increase output and GDP by having more efficient manufacturers, and if the barrier to entry for small shops or entrepreneurs to make products is lessened, won’t this lead to more jobs in general in the economy and spur innovation through competition?
Manufacturing jobs will never look the same and the type of satisfaction from current manufacturing employees most likely will be mixed, as this evolution into advanced manufacturing technology jobs plays out. This is evident in a great summary of Monster’s Manufacturing Job survey, by manufacturing blogger, AJ Sweatt, in his most recent blog post, Just How Healthy Is The US Manufacturing Job Market?, where he states: “US manufacturing job creation is in a malaise.” Of course it is. The same type of manufacturing jobs are not being created, which don’t meet the expectations of an aging generation, who’s every day life was of the reality of old factories that employed thousands of workers. The real issue at play here is an industry in major flux. Manufacturing in America is facing a gap between an aging workforce, tough economic times due to the recent recession, new regulation, and a need to attract a younger generation who views manufacturing the same way the workers in this survey view manufacturing: not bright.
However, over time, as more positive stories come out, and the use of advanced manufacturing technology increases, and more and more millennials join the workforce, I see this rut playing out just fine, as millennials will be attracted to the technology and cool factor of entrepreneurship. I see manufacturing not as perfect, but is set up really well for a great long term future. Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor will the evolution of Manufacturing happen in a day or even in just a couple years. We are all in it for the sustainable long haul. I for one am curious to see where Advanced Manufacturing takes us as a country, and am thrilled to see we are the leader with 60% of the market in 3D printing, and that the Wall St. Journal is covering the leaders such as GE and Nike, so others follow suite.
I came across a great infographic which does a great job at laying out the current role of advanced manufacturing technology and the possibilities it holds for American Manufacturing in general. After the infographic, please feel free to leave a comment on if you think advanced manufacturing technology will aid a recovery of jobs or output in manufacturing.
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