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The Future of DIY – Custom, Local Manufacturing

In 2012, ThomasNet in its piece “Is This the Era of DIY Manufacturing?” predicted that the future of manufacturing would entail “an Industrial Revolution in reverse.”

In this scenario, rapid fabrication (or molecular manufacturing) will turn every home into a personal, flexible factory. Companies and users will sell or share designs that can be manufactured at the point of use: instead of container ships carrying processed goods, the Internet will circulate blueprints and CAD files.

And while industrial mega-scale manufacturing will have still have its place in the decades to come (see the ramping up of Sparks, Nevada’s Tesla Giga-Factory), the core of manufacturing will likely be more localized, more customized and more specialized to the individual.

The desktop is quickly becoming the seat of manufacturing growth.  In 2015, according to Forbes,

More than 278,000 desktop 3D printers (under $5,000) were sold worldwide, according to Wohlers Associates, publishers of the annual Wohlers Report.

And while the vast majority of 3D printing is confined to polymers and thermoplastics, there is progress towards DIY constructing with and manipulating heavier duty, classic construction materials like steel and ceramics.

Take Wazer, for instance. Wazer is a desktop water-jet that can cut metal, ceramic, stone and composites scaled for individual crafters and small businesses wanting to fabricate their own components.  A Kickstarter to fund the project reached $1.3 million last year with a per unit cost of under $5,000.

 

 

Wazer, IMET, and companies like them are unleashing the creative potential of artisans, crafters, makers and DIY-ers to localize and simplify the construction of art, electronics and objects in the Internet of Things. 

According to industrial desginer, Noel Joyce, interviewed in the Wazer promo,

The future of manufacturing is in custom, local fabrication. 

 

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Why You Should Consider a Career in Manufacturing

With international manufacturing powerhouses like China, India, and South Korea constantly increasing their share of the world’s GDP, one might wonder whether the future of US manufacturing is in jeopardy. Is it worthwhile for a current student in the US to consider a career in manufacturing while considering the nature of the world economy’s evolution?

In a word: Yes. Here’s why:

1) The US will soon have a shortage of skilled manufacturing workers:

According to Deloitte,

“The United States faces a need for nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs over the next decade and 2 million of those jobs are likely to go unfilled due to the skills gap.”

In fact, the shortage could be so severe, that wages will have to rise within the industry as the competition among a smaller pool of skilled labor intensifies:

“While 80% of executives report they are willing to pay higher salaries than the market rates in workforce areas reeling under the talent crisis, the industry appears to suffer from an inability to fill positions expeditiously.”

2) Manufacturing is still a huge driver of American GDP.

There is ample evidence that the manufacturing footprint of the entire US economy is vastly underestimated, and could be as high as one-third. According to Mapi:

“The narrow definition of manufacturing industries in national statistics implies that the sector is of only minor importance to economic activity. The traditional finding is that manufacturers’ proportion of gross domestic product (GDP) is only about 11% and manufacturing’s share of economy-wide full-time equivalent employment is just 9%. Since this excludes manufacturing activities such as research and development, corporate management, logistics operations, and advertising and branding, those figures are merely the tip of the iceberg.”

3) By 2020, the US is projected to be the number one manufacturing country in the world.

According to IndustryWeek.com:

“By 2020 the U.S will overtake China to earn the top spot for the most competitive nation in the world.
The reason for this ranking, according to Deloitte and the U.S. Council on Competitiveness, is due the country’s investment in research, technology, and innovation.”

For further resources regarding manufacturing study, programs and companies interested in internships, see National Manufacturing Day — falling on the first Friday of October — October 7th, this year.

Here is a summary of a local manufacturing degree program provided by the Pennsylvania College of Technology:

And finally, don’t forget the IMET is hiring! The manufacturing future is bright, indeed.

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IMET to Exhibit at the 2016 Greater Philadelphia Manufacturing Summit

Just under two months from now, on October 19th,  IMET Corporation will be part of a select group of local exhibitors at The 2016 Greater Philadelphia Manufacturing Summit — as presented by DVIRC — The Deleware Valley Industrial Resource Center.

Among other innovations, IMET will be showcasing its largest-in-industry four foot LED circuit board, which is not only impressive to the eyeball, but provides a better light consistency across larger displays and can be more reliable than LEDs run on several smaller boards.

IMET will be joining attendees which, in 2015, represented over 150 regional manufacturers including NASA, Biobots, ONexia, and RTI International.

The conference will include a panoply of panels and special demonstrations.  Last year’s ‘Special Technology Demonstration’ included a Temple University drone demo, and a nanotech demo by UPenn.

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IMET to The Inquirer: Client diversity keeps us strong

A June 4 article by the Philadelphia Inquirer about the sluggish job market, presented various factors affecting hiring growth in manufacturing. While oil and other prices can negatively affect client activity, we believe that having a variety of clients can help small businesses withstand the sour effects of global economic woes and allow them to continue to staff to meet demands.
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