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Futurist: 3D Printing, Batteries to Drive Accelerating Change in Manufacturing

3D printing and advances in batteries will drive accelerating changes in manufacturing, an author and “futurist” said Monday at the CMTS show.

“We are in for substantive, massive change,” said Jim Carroll, a Canadian-based consultant who has written books about future trends.

With 3D printing, he said, manufacturing is shifting from drilling and cutting parts “to a world where we can print” parts on demand. 3D printing technologies are “moving forward at a staggering pace.”

Increased storage capacity for batteries, Carroll said, will enable the shift to electric vehicles from traditional gasoline and diesel engines.

“The future is one word: batteries,” Carroll said, a take off of the 1967 film The Graduate where a character tells a college graduate played by Dustin Hoffman that the future is in plastics.

Carroll is based in Mississauga, ON, outside Toronto where CMTS, put on by SME, is also held. His list of clients are mostly US-based companies. They include Caterpillar Inc., General Dynamics, United Technologies and Walt Disney Co. The consultant said his clients want to know how to react when the “future belongs to those who are fast.”

Carroll also gives motivational talks about how business have to adapt to change brought on by technology.

“We live in a time of instant knowledge-obsolescence,” he said. “The life cycle of a product collapses.” Contributing to that, he said, is how computing power accelerates, driving down the price of technology.

IoT Impact

Manufacturing is being affected by the Internet of Things (IoT), where production equipment and products can communicate with each other online, the consultant said.

“When you put connectivity into a product” the product changes, Carroll said.

The fast rate of change in the United States, he said, is stirring “some of the angst south of the border. ‘Make this change go away.’”

He also said Canadian manufacturing may face a “tremendous impact” by current negotiations between the US, Canada, and Mexico. The three countries are discussing changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement. President Donald Trump has said the accord must be revised or the US may walk way from the trade pact.

 Read the full article in Advanced Manufacturing.