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The advent of additive manufacturing has far-reaching implications that may drastically change manufacturing and trade, as well as missions into space. Significantly in September 2014, the U.S. Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) sent a 3D printer to the International Space Station. The printer will be used to provide real-time replacement parts at the station, enhancing safety as well as efficiency.

Digital manufacturing enables firms to produce on the 3D printer what it formerly had to order from a local or foreign supplier. The vast inventory yards of large oil companies, such as those of ARAMCO, in Saudi Arabia stretch over dozens of hectares. This will be an unusual scene by 2025.

3D printing has implications for inventory management and transport costs.

  1. Inventory Management
    Holding inventory is expensive. Companies may no longer need to go to the expense of holding large inventories of certain types of goods, materials and spare parts.
  2. Transport Costs
    Today, transparent costs are a large percent of total costs of goods sold: goods are shipped by planes, trains, boat and mail. In additive manufacturing transport costs will be merely those of sending the specification electronically from the originator to a recipient firm’s 3D printer and the costs of materials to a recipient firm. This will surely result in a huge drop in the cost of transporting certain types of goods (not all).
There are those who claim that this will lower all costs of production, including labor and capital costs. Indeed the labor cost in additive manufacturing may be very small: A main labor cost will be those involved in devising and implementing the software protocols for shipment to 3-D printers.

Implications for sustainable growth

The implications for sustainable growth (see Chapter___) are fairly obvious. Additive manufacturing will help:

  • Conserve energy
  • Reduce waste
  • Reduce pressure on reserves of scarce non-renewable resources over time.

Implications for economics of scale

Economic students learn all about economies of scale in introductory Microeconomics course. Prior to 2014, if one needed a single wrench for changing tires, the manufacturer would first have had to make a mold, and then pour in the metal. To do this for one wrench would be outrageously expensive. But if the firm produces hundreds of thousands of these wrenches, it can pull down the costs with economics of scale.

But, with the 3D printer, even one item can be very cheap once the firm has a fully developed 3D printing process. To order a customized hip implant (one of a kind) one merely tweaks the software for hip implants generally and sends it along. It matters little whether one or 1001 of the implants are made. The cost may be low but will not decline much with numbers produced.

The implications for international trade could be very significant. Some traditional manufacturing firms in many countries large and small will go out of business. But the big question for emerging nations is:

How will countries with low wage cost be able to compete in trade when additive manufacturing is widespread? How could developed countries still use high import tariffs to protect local industry in such a world? Could trade sanctions such as those recently directed at Iran in 2014 work at all in such a world?

Questions & Answers

Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Economic development for the 21st century. OpenStax CNX. Jun 05, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11747/1.12
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