3D Printing Stars in Fed-Sponsored Manufacturing Initiative
The first of 15 centers of excellence aimed at revitalizing US manufacturing will be dedicated to additive manufacturing, which can produce complex, difficult, multi-part shapes such as hollow part molds for this intake manifold, created using Stratasys' Fused Deposition Modeling process. (Source: Champion Motorsport)
Ann, I generally suppor this type of effort. One thing I have a problem with, though, is the statement on keeping jobs. The bulk of manufacturing jobs in high tech are the assembly jobs. You may have heard about the problems at the Foxconn. What is striking is the number of workers at these facilities. You hear numbers like 75,000 at one plant. They have over 1M employees. We really need jobs that are medium or low skilled. All this high tech manufacturing in the US employs fewer and fewer jobs. We are good at that stuff. The problem is that the companies that have the largest numbers of employees are companies like Walmart. I don't know what the answer is, but we need to address that issue as well.
I've been reading much about a resurgence in American manufacturing and so glad to see 3D printing and additive manufacturing being positioned at the forefront of that resurgence. Naperlou: Your point about the skill level for these new manufacturing jobs is well taken, but I'm not sure we're heading back to a wealth of less technical labor any time soon (just consider all the robotics innovations that will take on more of the menial work). That said, reskilling and training of the American workforce has to be a priority in all of these initatives in order for the labor market to benefit in any signficant way.
Beth, I think from what you and I have been reporting on 3D printing and AM--and how much the technologies have been breaking barriers, and pushing the edges of what's possible in process and materials--that this initiative is a logical next step. I was glad to see that the promise of 3D printing and AM finally reached the notice of people who can make these changes happen.
@naperlou: Even if we could bring low-paid, low-skill jobs back to the U.S., they wouldn't be able to support our standard of living. On the other hand, skilled manufacturing jobs can form a sound basis for a national economy -- look at Germany, for example. The key is ensuring that our workforce has the skills for these jobs. Public-private partnerships like this can help in that regard.
Lorrain County Community College, which is one of the member organizations of this new partnership, has been involved in additive manufacturing for several years. Community colleges can play a big role in educating our workforce for a skilled manufacturing resurgence.
Dave, you are right on. We tend to compare our K-12 education system to, say Europe, while they have a completely different system. In Germany there are three levels of education. Almost all of our schools are college prep. In Germany, a minority of students go to Gymnasium, their equivalent of the college prepatory school. They have other levels of school that provide what we might call vocational education. You may have noticed in the news lately companies complaining about not being able to get enough skilled craftsmen (a typical skill at issue is welding).
While you say the low skill jobs will not come back or support our way of life, how do you exaplain the in-migration of low skilled labor? Even in China the wages are going up steeply for the types of jobs Foxconn has. The increase in the last year was almost 20%. That rate is not slowing down.
Dave, thanks for the info about the community college. I agree about the necessity of the partnerships between higher education and industry. In fact, this entire cluster of efforts seems kind of late in coming to help US manufacturing.
Lou, I'm inclined to agree with Dave. For one thing, those low-paid low skilled jobs in large numbers we used to have are in part the heritage of the industrial revolution with its focus on mass production done primarily by people. In smaller post-industrial countries like German and other European nations, I think what Dave says is accurate. Their situation--and history--is very different from China, both in terms of scale and in terms of existing institutions in place--and absent--due to historical precedents. And we're yet different also--much bigger than a European nation, and much more diverse, yet smaller than China. But our history, and existing institutions and economic structure, is in most ways more like Germany than China. It's apples and bananas.
I have to agree with Dave as well. It's the skilled manufacturing jobs that are the key to revitalizing U.S. manufacturing. Even technologies like 3D printing and AM require a certain level of expertise--knowledge of 3D modeling, materials, tolerances, etc. Promoting a secondary educational path towards vocational schools is definitely one important way to solve the problem as it incorporating some of the basic technologies in K-12 schools so younger students can be exposed to the potential and let their own interests guide them on course.
Our standard of living is going to keep going down, we are 16 trillion in debt, this means we are living way over our head, we are going in debt to keep up this lifestyle .. so more jobs is a joke until we fix the foundation of what is wrong .. and now Helicopter Ben is printing out of freakin thin air 40 billion a month to bail out the banksters again .. and no one questions the freaking foundation, people drone on about this additive jobs funded by our government who is so far in debt it is funny .. It makes me laugh
An MIT research team has invented what they see as a solution to the need for biodegradable 3D-printable materials made from something besides petroleum-based sources: a water-based robotic additive extrusion method that makes objects from biodegradable hydrogel composites.
Alcoa has unveiled a new manufacturing and materials technology for making aluminum sheet, aimed especially at automotive, industrial, and packaging applications. If all its claims are true, this is a major breakthrough, and may convince more automotive engineers to use aluminum.
NASA has just installed a giant robot to help in its research on composite aerospace materials, like those used for the Orion spacecraft. The agency wants to shave the time it takes to get composites through design, test, and manufacturing stages.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is working with architects Foster + Partners to test the possibility of using lunar regolith, or moon rocks, and 3D printing to make structures for use on the moon. A new video shows some cool animations of a hypothetical lunar mission that carries out this vision.
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