The current method of manufacturing is called "additive" manufacturing. Why? Because as products move through the manufacturing process pieces are added to it to create the final product. The automobile assembly line is a perfect example. As cars move through the assembly line, pieces are added till the product rolls off the end completed. A new method of manufacturing is evolving where 3D printers create the whole product in one location. In other words, each printer creates a finished product and not just one piece of the final product. This type of manufacturing is still in its infancy, but work is progressing. Google is working on producing smartphones using 3D printers. The implications are amazing. First, mass manufacturing can become fully custom. Next, you can make things anywhere. You can conceivably make products where they are sold. In other words, you can merge retail sales with manufacturing all in one location. Finally, there will be fewer and fewer people working in manufacturing. it will all be done with machines. The future of manufacturing will be mass customization, retail manufacturing, and all done by machine. I wonder if there will be manufacturing vending machines? That is a possibility.
What do you think?