According to Thomas Friedman’s book, The World is Flat, in the last century, our world "flattened" before our eyes and is now a level playing field, where all competitors have an equal opportunity.
Geographical, cultural, financial and economic boundaries are gone, and countries, companies and individuals must adjust to this shift to remain competitive in the global marketplace.
This shift has been described as a “globalization,” characterized by the rise of emerging markets and the simultaneous financial crises in developed countries. Due to economic downturns, developed countries began moving production to emerging markets to take advantage of lower labor costs and more lenient regulations.
However, in recent years, this trend has begun to slow down. Off shore manufacturing has started to move back to the United States due to an increase in transportation prices as well as wages. Additional external factors such as pollution in Chinese cities and the threat of a currency war also affect offshore production.
This most recent shift has shown that globalization is not without limits. So now what?
3D printing, or additive manufacturing, is gaining momentum in the industrial manufacturing sector. 3D printing technology uses drawings from CADs (computer aided design) to create 3D objects using an additive/layered approach.
This technology facilities mass customization and localization, making large-scale production in emerging markets unnecessary and ultimately bringing jobs back to the U.S. As adoption of this technology increases, there could be a growth in jobs requiring highly-skilled and trained technicians in the U.S. manufacturing industry.
Effects Still Unclear
Right now, it’s still unclear what impact additive manufacturing will have on globalization. There are a few trends to plan for as 3D printing begins to infiltrate current manufacturing. At the end of the day, we can be certain that globalization isn’t static, and the possibilities for the future are endless.
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