3D printing may put global supply chains out of business: report

By Joe McKendrick | October 9, 2012, 7:06 PM PDT

3D printing (or “additive manufacturing,” as it’s called in industrial circles) takes offshore manufacturing and brings it back close to the consumer. It has enormous potential to shift the trade balance. Goods will be cheaper to reproduce within the domestic market, versus manufacturing and then shipping them from a distant low-wage country.

The report, authored by John Manners-Bell of Transport Intelligence and Ken Lyon of Virtual-Partners Ltd., points to the growing role of automation in production resulting from 3D printing:

“New technologies which are currently being developed could revolutionize production techniques, resulting in a significant proportion of manufacturing becoming automated and removing reliance on large and costly work forces. This in turn could lead to a reversal of the trend of globalization which has characterized industry and consumption over the last few decades, itself predicated on the trade-off between transportation and labor costs.”

Read more: 3D printing may put global supply chains out of business: report | SmartPlanet.

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