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According to marketwatch.com:
"Manufacturing is enjoying a revival in the United States, a major reason being the emergence of 3D printing, which according to a leading industry report is primarily responsible for the U.S. adding over half a million manufacturing jobs over the last three years."
Because of the nature of 3D printing, this revitalized manufacturing looks quite different from the manufacturing that left U.S. shores to cheaper overseas labor. 3D printers can produce complex objects in their entirety without the need for assembly from sub components. This is in contrast to conventional fabrication methods, which because of their limitation to simpler geometries, must employ assembly operations to produce complex objects from simpler sub components.
The production of the simpler components are often done by specialized manufacturing facilities that are spread out in different geographic locations. These sub component parts are then shipped to a manufacturer that may do further machining operations on the components before final assembly. This is a complex and often expensive process requiring the timed movement of many parts. This complexity can result in disruptions of production of the final product.
Because conventional manufacturing of a product often requires many separate operations to manufacture the sub components, more labor is needed. Labor cost thus becomes a driving factor in the outsourcing of manufacturing to countries with cheap labor.
The new U.S. manufacturing sector will be more localized. All fabrication of a given product will mostly, if not completely occur at a single location. The only material movement that occurs will be the transport of raw materials and of the final product. This vast simplification reduces the cost and time requirements for manufacturing products of moderate to high complexity.
Overseas outsourcing of manufacturing will drop significantly because labor is dramatically reduced. This means distribution costs will outweigh labor costs. Therefore, manufacturing will be as close to the consumer as possible, that is, U.S. manufacturing will be located in the U.S. near U.S. consumers.
The steady price reduction of 3D printers combined with its flexibility will encourage the proliferation of many new businesses and the creation of new industries. This will result in a substantial creation of new manufacturing jobs. Since manufacturing employs a wide variety of professionals, the job creation impact will cover a broad range of professional types.
At least in the near future, the effect of U.S. 3D Printing Opportunities will not cause the complete elimination of overseas outsourcing. Mass production of standardized products of simple geometry will still be more viable when done with conventional fabrication techniques. They will likely continue to be more economically produced overseas.