WSJ: 3-D printing – A Revolution in the Making

We are about to see a NEW AGE OF MANUFACTURING – u can now buy a cheap 3-D printer for just $1200… never thought I would see this in my lifetime…

Impacts Big and Small

For big companies, it means a swath of new tools to build smarter, leaner factories and explore innovative new products, materials and techniques that weren’t possible before. And thanks to plummeting prices, small companies have access to better, cheaper manufacturing equipment and design tools—giving even one-person startups the chance to create market-shaking innovations. Many people liken the era we’re in to the early days of computing, where upstart hobbyists in their garages came up with huge advances that changed the industry. (See “Build a Better Mousetrap—Fast.”

“Manufacturing is undergoing a change that is every bit as significant as the introduction of interchangeable parts or the production line, maybe even more so,” says Michael Idelchik, who heads up advanced technologies at GE’s global research lab, located about 15 minutes away from the battery plant. “The future is not going to be about stretched-out global supply chains connected to a web of distant giant factories. It’s about small, nimble manufacturing operations using highly sophisticated new tools and new materials.”

There’s no question that a coinage like the New Industrial Revolution sounds magisterial, given the profound impact that the original Industrial Revolution had not just on business but on living standards around the world. And there’s also no question that for all the big talk and big forecasts, many things will go on being produced using techniques that were all but perfected long ago.

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