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3D Printing: Bringing Jobs Back to The US, While Changing The Fabric of Manufacturing

By E.T. Wilson | 3DPrint.com

With everyone from private enthusiasts to industry experts and CEOs heralding 3D printing as the next great manufacturing shift, it can be easy to forget the last sea change in the industry—the effects of which are still very much being grappled with at every level. Before 3D printing there was outsourcing, and it made itself hyper-profitable for companies operating on volume margins.

The ability for Chinese factories to mass-produce a given widget at a lower cost per unit than U.S. factories made it a no-brainer business move for many.

This was not just a revolution in the logistics and structure of marketing, but in global economics. Seemingly overnight, employers once assumed to be golden tickets for American workers were conducting layoffs and moving their operations to China to save money, and Americans flocked to Wal-Mart to reap the rewards at the register. While unemployment in certain U.S. sectors increased, China’s middle class exploded, as a rush of overseas money was opened up to unskilled, uneducated Chinese workers.

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