The pendulum swings, whether we like it or not.
There’s been a lot of talk about unions lately, what with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s failed recall election.
I think we’re in an odd spot these days. And it’s getting more odd. Our dialogue has become so incensed and self-serving that I’m not sure we’re seeing clearly right now. And that’s not good – because now’s not the time for us to be distracted, or off our game. We should be paying attention and looking for solutins more now that at any time in recent memory.
I recently attended the RAPID 2012 show in Atlanta. For those that don’t know, RAPID is an annual trade show and technical exposition hosted by SME, and dedicated to the promotion & growth of Additive Manufacturing (AM)and its related technologies. RAPID 2012 marked the 9th year of the show’s existence.
AM isn’t necessarily new. Many of its parts have been ‘around’ for some time – stereolithography, 3D Printing, Laser Sintering, to name a few. But as a technology, it’s still in its early stages. And like most industrial technologies before it, we’re learning as we develop AM. Make no mistake – AM will influence legitimate applications, and will greatly alter how we design and build things.
The show floor and conferences at RAPID 2012 focused primarily on where AM is as a technology, how that technology is expanding, and sharing interesting AM examples from shop floors, from around the world.
But what struck me most about AM was its potential beyond the technical, beyond the tools, and beyond the processes. The technologists and professionals at RAPID were laser-focused (pun intended) on developing and proliferating AM as a technology, and they (and the show itself) hit a home run in that regard. And there are many in our industries that are much better at describing the details of AM’s technology than I.
But I saw things there that made me look beyond the technology, and I came away with a set of new perspectives on – and possibilities of – AM’s potential impact on business, supply chains & whole economies. And even our culture.
Here are 3 ways that I see that Additive Manufacturing may very well upend our lives and the ways we do business, and sooner than you might think: