Current and emerging production technologies, including mass customization, nano-technology, and 3D printing, are already letting manufacturers rethink their traditional approach of producing enormous quantities of highly standardized products.
Customers will be at the center of this new innovation-based economy. Today manufacturing is designed for manufacturers. In the innovation economy, manufacturing will be designed for – and in part by – customers. Here are five of the tools that manufacturers are, or will be, using:
Additive Manufacturing. Additive manufacturing is the method of making products and components by depositing thin layers of material using a digital blueprint (as opposed to traditional subtractive manufacturing, which uses machine tools, such as lathes or milling machines, to remove material to produce an object). Examples include 3D printing, laser sintering, and cold spray coating.
Nanomanufacturing. Referring to manufacturing at the atomic level, nanomanufacturing can be either top-down (reducing larger materials down to the nano scale) or bottom-up (building things from molecular components).
Self-Assembling Components. Self-assembly, the process by which components interact with each other spontaneously to build an ordered structure, has been a focus of research for years at the molecular level, but it holds promise at larger scales as well.
Biomanufacturing. Biomanufacturing is the process of producing products out of biological materials, from pharmaceuticals and chemicals to paper and food.
Robotics. Industrial robots have proven their worth on the shop floor for repetitive tasks, but future advances in machine learning and predictive analytics will enable a more proactive robotic workforce that could make it less cost prohibitive to move production facilities closer to customers.
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW THE INNOVATION ECONOMY WILL AFFECT MANUFACTURING, DOWNLOAD THE IN-DEPTH REPORT A NEW INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION: THE INNOVATION ECONOMY AND MANUFACTURING AND THE EXPERT Q&A WHAT HAPPENS WHEN AN IDEA BECOMES THE PRODUCT?
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