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Could You Lose Your Job to 3D Printing?

Posted January 13, 2014 4:26 PM by RTD Manufacturing

General Electric's plans for 3D printing are big, but the media's focus on market size is only part of the story. For engineers, the "wow" factor is that additive manufacturing could replace 18 manufactured parts with one 3D printed part that works in a jet engine at 2,400 degrees F. What are some comparable technological achievements, especially in aviation, within recent memory?

There's more to the story, too, especially if you form part of GE's supply chain or wonder about the future of your production and engineering job. What happens when just one part and one piece of equipment are needed to make a fuel-injector nozzle? Will jobs be eliminated? Probably. Will other manufacturing equipment and perhaps even other plants become obsolete? Perhaps.

This is what's meant by 3D printing being a "disruptive technology". For now, however, most observers are focused soley on sales and stock prices. There's a bigger picture, however, and it's worth thinking about. As a top contributor wrote in the CNC Machining / Manufacturing group on LinkedIn, "If you're not concerned, you're not paying attention.

What do you think?

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#1

Re: Could You Lose Your Job to 3D Printing?

01/13/2014 7:13 PM

The doom and gloom crowd said the exact same thing about robotics in manufacturing.

The result was the opposite; more jobs. People needed to design, service, install, and run these robots and while robotics increased manufacturing throughput it also boosted the net employment picture.

I'd be surprised if 3D printing doesn't bring the same thing along with it.

However, if you are not willing to be part of the wave, you very well might find unemployment come knocking.

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#6
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Re: Could You Lose Your Job to 3D Printing?

01/14/2014 9:56 AM

I agree that robotics increased technical job market demand.

However, the actual number of personnel employed by manufacturing decreased dramatically.

The major decrease and loss of jobs & workers were labor intensive line assembly personnel and operators who far outnumber the quantity of technical personnel in any process facility.

Although the work these people were doing is considered by many to be trivial nonetheless a tremendous number of people have been displaced and will continue to be displaced by technological advancement.

When younger I accepted this change as "progress" because my employment was not and still is not affected.

Unfortunately reality has set in as I get older and I fully realize that not everyone has the intelligence to be a competent technical employee.

The following posted to stimulate the thought process, not to offend.

The reality of the situation is:

"What are the multitides of displaced non-skilled or low-skilled workers supposed to do in order to have employment, be productive, and have some sort of a life?"

Do we just indiscriminately continue to automate our factories and other production facilities to maximize output and profit?

At the end of the day who will we sell our products to if the majority of the world's population is out of work or their wages are so low they cannot afford to buy the products?

Have we become so naive and conceited that none consider the imminent reaction from the masses of unemployed people that are being created daily and the fact that most are being moved into government programs such as welfare?

The government unemployed headcount tracking DATA report is so skewed that it isn't anywhere near being accurate as most people run out of employment benefits within 48 weeks and are "dropped" off the list.

The fact is that if continued indiscriminately; technology will displace most workers yet our population will continue to increase, and the few that are left employed will be saddled with the burden of an extremely high tax rate maybe to the point of being overwhelmed.

I hope that a solution to this dilema is found as I certainly do not have one.

However I have no doubt that the solution(s) will come from thought stimulation and ensuing conversation in forums such as CR4.

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#9
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Re: Could You Lose Your Job to 3D Printing?

01/15/2014 12:09 PM

ABSOLUTELY!

I have been in areas of automation in most of my professional career, and have displaced many an unskilled or semi-skilled laborer. In my younger days I may have consoled myself with the thoughts:

"The company will move them to different jobs within the company."

"They'll find other jobs."

"The jobs that are being replaced are menial jobs that people shouldn't have to do."

The sad reality is, even assuming jobs exist, not every unskilled laborer can be made into a skilled one. If you disagree, you should make a few trips outside the palace grounds.

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#10
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Re: Could You Lose Your Job to 3D Printing?

01/17/2014 1:33 PM

"What are the multitides of displaced non-skilled or low-skilled workers supposed to do in order to have employment, be productive, and have some sort of a life?"

Well, I guess we could do with a few more reality TV shows, amirite?

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#2

Re: Could You Lose Your Job to 3D Printing?

01/13/2014 10:18 PM

Let me know when they begin. I will stop flying for while then. I don't find this realistic. How do they print it for that temperature?

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#3

Re: Could You Lose Your Job to 3D Printing?

01/14/2014 5:22 AM

No.
Del

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#4

Re: Could You Lose Your Job to 3D Printing?

01/14/2014 6:10 AM

Having just attended a Solidworks seminar a few months back and spent some time with the Computer Aided Technology salesman, I think the idea of a high temp/stress part as described for the jet engine is still down the road a bit. No doubt it's coming, or some technology similar to it. And the prototype molding jobs that our company does now will certainly be affected, but we are actually using this tech right now to enhance or customer service. I just finished a design for a medical part and rather than build the mold, shoot the 6 parts and send to the customer,(about a week process in this case), I had 6 printed parts made overnight, (SLA) and sent to him . He completely changed his idea after actually holding the part and testing the basic function. This saved thousands of dollars in mold rework and replacement. We are looking into our own 3d printer but for our needs it is still best to farm it out to someone else. But there is no doubt it will forever change prototyping and manufacturing forever.

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#5

Re: Could You Lose Your Job to 3D Printing?

01/14/2014 9:17 AM

I heard it said one time that "many businesses are one technology shift away from extiction." Horse and buggy's were replaced by "horseless carriages", carbeurators were replaced by fuel injection systems, film photography was replaced with digital pictures, reel to reel > 8-Track > cassette > CD's > MP 3's > digital downloads, etc. The list could go on and on.

As one field changes it also changes and possibly enlarges others.

Change isn't bad, it is the unwillingness to make the needed changes that is bad. Thee is a statement I heard one time that said, "change is inevitable, growth is optional".

There will always be visionary people who innovate, invent and change the current "status quo". We, as mankind, have the ability to adapt and change how we think and act according to the environment (not weather) around us.

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#7
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Re: Could You Lose Your Job to 3D Printing?

01/14/2014 12:30 PM

You wrote, "reel to reel > 8-Track > cassette > CD's > MP 3's > digital downloads…"

It's now gone full circle with the rise of something called vinyl.

Seems all of the items you listed are going down in sales volume and vinyl is seeing a resurgence.

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Re: Could You Lose Your Job to 3D Printing?

01/15/2014 11:57 AM
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