3D Printing Is The Future Of Factories (For Real This Time)
“But the benefits of factories suggest their limitations. They are not reprogrammable: To make different products, a factory must retool with different machines. Thus, the first product shipped is much more expensive than the next million, and innovation is hobbled by need for capital expenditure and is never rapid. More, specialization compels multinational businesses to circle the globe with supply chains and warehouses, because goods must be shipped and stored.
All that is about to change. In another industrial revolution, humans are making new things in novel ways into hitherto impossible shapes, using the technology of a fizzled craze: 3-D printing. This summer, I visited the future of manufacturing at the headquarters of Desktop Metal, a startup in Burlington, Massachusetts, which is building printers that make metal parts. Co-founded in 2016 by the serial entrepreneur Ric Fulop and four MIT professors, including Emmanuel Sachs (who first coined the term “3-D printing”), Desktop Metal has raised over $277 million from investors such as Kleiner Perkins, General Electric, BMW, and Ford, and is valued at more than $1 billion. (Disclosure: I have known Fulop, best known for starting the failed battery company A123 Systems, for more than a decade.)…”
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