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3D Printing Brings Competitiveness to Regional Manufacturing

Using a cluster model developed at the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation, Cliff Waldman, MAPI Foundation economic studies director, says 3D printing has caused an increase in regional manufacturing competitiveness.

3D Printing Brings Competitiveness to Regional Manufacturing

It creates smaller and more agile industries, he said, which itself allows for specialization and the inclusion of 3D printing in product development. 3D printing is the most powerful way to shape both products and processes, Waldman said. The number of commercial printing machines in use worldwide has grown from 355 in 2008 to 23,000 in 2013.

The ability to produce materials proximate to the point of input has shortened supply chains in a number of sectors. 3D printing could also make product design a more prominent part of supply chains and clusters.

"The new manufacturing production paradigm in general and the contribution of 3D specifically have the potential to drive regional manufacturing systems toward ever-higher levels of efficiency, innovation and competitiveness," Waldman said. "With its capacity toward flexible design, 3D printing will have the possibility to provide cluster-to-cluster spillover impacts and the development of new clusters. This will result in a major boost to the strength of U.S. manufacturing.

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