A manufacturing workforce’s productivity is dependent on its access to tools that speed up routines. One less-talked-about area is the 3D printing of jigs and fixtures. Additive manufacturing can put a new jig or fixture into the hands of shop floor workers in a day, and the process is quickly repeatable to eliminate upkeep.
The emerging field of direct digital manufacturing (DDM) is showing promise as a solution for contract manufacturers. Often equated with 3D printing (but in reality a broader field), DDM could be an attractive option for manufacturers that are often called upon to produce small batches of parts or products at a fast turnaround. Read more
Core patents for selective laser sintering (SLS) technology will expire next year. The expiration was announced several weeks ago and immediately sparked speculation about the near future of the technology, including the notion that Chinese manufacturers would flood the market with dirt-cheap systems, leading to the development of desktop SLS devices. Experts, however, take a very different stance. Read more
Imagine an economy characterized by people working fewer hours and focusing more on interpersonal connections and personal satisfaction than on the purchase and consumption of goods. Juliet Schor, a sociology professor at Boston College, envisions just such a scenario in her book True Wealth (originally published as Plenitude) and suggests that one element of this “new productivity” will be the widespread adoption of personal manufacturing, using 3D printing. Read more
Industry remains focused on boosting U.S. manufacturing, especially as new reports indicate that manufacturing is contracting due to a sluggish economy and companies are citing difficulty hiring workers. There are new initiatives that provide a chance for manufacturers to get involved in helping the industry, from education to federal policy. Here is a closer look at several of the latest debuts and launches.