Manufacturing, the backbone of globalization, is changing as a result of 3D printing and industrial automation technologies. How can organizations proactively identify how these changes that will ripple through the global marketplace?
Additive manufacturing and 3D printing are more than just new tools. They represent a fundamentally different manufacturing process that will have effects far beyond the industrial sector. The industrial applications of these technologies enable customization at scale and decrease the marginal cost between manufacturing an object in the developed world (near the point of sale) versus the developing world (where labor is cheap). Industrial automation also provides tools to offset people with machines, which further disincentivizes outsourced manufacturing.
Manufacturing and the associated supply chains form the backbone of globalization. If outsourced manufacturing is diminished even slightly it will significantly impact shipping, logistics, warehousing, and real estate industries, as well as the national economies that are predicated on low-cost manufacturing.
Follow our analysis to better understand how manufacturing and global trade patterns flow down to affect other industries.
Globalization & Manufacturing
Traditional manufacturing is based on subtraction. The manufacturer begins with a block of material from which they cut away whatever is not needed for the final product. 3D printing, by contrast, operates on an additive model of manufacturing. 3D printing starts with a base material and builds up layers until the completed object is created. This is the most significant shift in base manufacturing processes since the assembly line.
Industrial automation significantly benefits from the developments in machine learning and AI software. The application of new software to factory tools enables a new generation of industrial robots – that continue to further skew the cost vs. productivity calculus away from human labor in more and more manufacturing applications.
If manufacturing costs for printing an item locally or overseas are the same, the locally printed item will be cheaper because the transportation cost to get that item to the end customer or assembly factory will be lower. This is a negative long-term trend for global shipping demand. Even a minor reduction in demand can have an outsized impact on all companies that rely on the global movement of goods.
Manufacturing and the associated supply chains form the backbone of global trade. Any shift in core manufacturing technologies and processes that changes the economic calculus behind where goods are made will necessarily mean a corresponding shift in globalization and the structure of the global economy. Manufacturing and global trade are inextricably linked.
Explore The Global Implications
Subscribe to the Catalyst Monitor
Learn how developments in manufacturing technology impacts global logistics, strategy, and trade.