What the 3D Printing Renaissance Will Mean for the U.S.
3D printing offers great potential for mass customization and manufacturing tools.
Willy Shih’s expertise is in manufacturing and product development, and he has written or co-authored more than 125 cases and teaching materials in industries ranging from semiconductors, information technology, consumer electronics, aerospace, transportation equipment, manufacturing processes and tools, and intellectual property. His paper, “Restoring American Competitiveness,” co-authored with Gary Pisano, won the 2009 McKinsey Award. His recent book, “Producing Prosperity – Why America Needs a Manufacturing Renaissance,” co-authored with Gary Pisano, has called attention to the link between manufacturing and innovation. He is also the author of “Back Bay Battery,” a best-selling innovation simulation.
I think the impact of 3D printing will be seen in a number of areas. On the one hand I think there’s great potential for mass customization - the ability to tailor products to individual consumer needs and do it in a relatively rapid time. That means being able to order something on the web, customize it and deliver it to a consumer in a relatively short time.
That actually bodes well for relatively high cost manufacturing locations like the U.S. because those goods are not really so tradable. You don’t want to manufacture them halfway around the world if you want to customize them because a lot of the value comes in doing it quickly.
The other area where I think we’re going to see a revolution in 3D printing is in manufacturing tools. The ability to make tools that you might not have been able to do through conventional methods or to be able to turn them around quickly will have a significant impact, in my view, on the turnaround time in getting new products to market.
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