Distributed Manufacturing AND Distribution

3D printing has tremendous potential to enable distributed manufacturing. This is where a wide variety of manufactured goods can be made by printing them. Printing as a manufacturing process has the ability to change our idea of manufacturing being limited to industrial factory environments, and distribute it to smaller locations that can engage more limited entrepreneurs. Distributed manufacturing will enable rapid change and foster more innovation.

Once goods have been manufactured, they traditionally would find their way into a distribution chain that involved transportation by truck and train to warehouse inventories to wait for the last mile transportation.

But distribution is also going to undergo the same transformation as robotic and autonomous vehicles become more used. Drones and robotic vehicles can deliver good directly from the manufacturing points (specially if they are more local because of the 3D printing) to the consumer.

Changing both the manufacturing and the distribution process at the same time to smaller, more local, more efficient and cheaper means, will have ripple effects throughout our socio-economic framework. Innovation and rapid change will increase. Costs will decrease. Local control means more intimate response to customer needs.

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