3D Printing and Distributed Additive Manufacturing
Last year we took input from 4 key technology thought leaders and created a list of 30 emerging technologies that technology investors should be aware of. One of these emerging technologies was "distributed manufacturing" which Scientific American described as a process where "the raw materials and methods of fabrication are decentralized and the final product is manufactured very close to the final customer". One thing that comes to mind as perhaps the ultimate form of distributed manufacturing would be 3D printing (also called additive manufacturing). How much closer to the manufacturing process can you get when the product is produced in your garage? That's the sort of hype that originally propelled 3D stocks to the stratosphere before settling back down to more realistic valuations. There are only so many utensils or plastic Star Wars figurines you can print before you start to think that we're still a long way away from the Star Trek replicator.
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