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Is a Manufacturing Revolution on the Horizon?

3D Printing, Manufacturing, and U.S. Competitiveness

Speakers: Hugh Evans, Vice President, Corporate Development and Ventures, 3D Systems
Brad Pietras, Vice President, Technology, Lockheed Martin Corporation
Cliff Waldman, Council Director and Senior Economist, Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation
Presider: Brett B. Lambert, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary, Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy, U.S. Department of Defense
December 11, 2013

Event Description

The rise of 3D printing has raised hopes of rejuvenating the long-beleaguered U.S. manufacturing sector. Hugh Evans of 3D Systems, Brad Pietras of Lockheed Martin, and Cliff Waldman from the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation discuss the current state of 3D printing technology and its implications for U.S. competitiveness, the structure of global supply chains, and the future composition of the labor force.

Event Highlights

Brad Pietras on the coming shift in manufacturing toward more high-skilled labor:

"Manufacturing of the future in the United States—the reason manufacturing is coming back to the United States is because technologies—like advanced manufacturing, robotics, 3-D printing, and such—are taking the cheap labor force component out of the equation. And so manufacturing of the future in the United States isn't just going to be folks on the floor bending metal and sweating and, you know, sparks and dirty manufacturing. It's going to be computer science. It's going to be mathematics. It's going to be material science."

Cliff Waldman on how 3D printing will affect workers in the manufacturing sector:

"I know that's the theory, that these technologies are creating less of a labor-intensive manufacturing sector, and therefore we'll just need fewer jobs. I think that's a very static view of things. I think it's going to reallocate the kinds of jobs that we need. And what we're going to have to do is take the lower skilled workers and invest in them. But the number of jobs—I know that's the prevailing theory now—but I think that's somewhat of a short-sighted prediction."

Hugh Evans on how 3D printing will affect the future configuration of global supply chains:

"It's disruptive. I'd be cautious on any of these grand statements developing. But my—the way I'm thinking about it is that the paradigm is shifting from design locally, produce globally to design globally, produce locally. And it's an inversion."


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