Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
Robotics United States

US Regaining Manufacturing Might With Robots and 3D Printing 475

For years, the U.S. has been hemorrhaging manufacturing jobs to China because of the vastly cheaper labor pool. But now, several different technologies have ripened to the point where U.S. companies are bringing some operations back home. 3D printing, robotics, AI, and nanotechnology are all expected to dramatically change the manufacturing landscape over the next several years. From the article: "The factory assembly that the Chinese are performing is child’s play for the next generation of robots—which will soon become cheaper than human labor. Indeed, one of China’s largest manufacturers, Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group, announced last August that it plans to install one million robots within three years to do the work that its workers in China presently do. It found Chinese labor to be too expensive and demanding. The world’s most advanced car, the Tesla Roadster, is also being manufactured in Silicon Valley, which is one of the most expensive places in the country. Tesla can afford this because it is using robots to do the assembly. ... 3D printers can already create physical mechanical devices, medical implants, jewelry, and even clothing. The cheapest 3D printers, which print rudimentary objects, currently sell for between $500 and $1000. Soon, we will have printers for this price that can print toys and household goods. By the end of this decade, we will see 3D printers doing the small-scale production of previously labor-intensive crafts and goods. It is entirely conceivable that in the next decade we start 3D-printing buildings and electronics."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

US Regaining Manufacturing Might With Robots and 3D Printing

Comments Filter:
  • Re:Goodbye jobs (Score:5, Informative)

    by crazyjj ( 2598719 ) * on Monday July 23, 2012 @02:36PM (#40739601)

    If you want to get an idea of what this looks like in practice, just look at Brazil. The rich live in heavily-secured opulence, the poor live in abysmal poverty.

  • Actually not (Score:5, Informative)

    by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @02:47PM (#40739729)

    And what are the non-creative idiots going to do for a living?... it's easy to forget that they're still the majority, you know.

    That's false, it's simply that so many have had the creativity stamped out of them by modern education. If you have any interaction with kids you'll find that in fact most people are creative.

    So what has to change is how we educate children, and fast.

  • Re:Goodbye jobs (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @02:58PM (#40739921) Journal

    Someone has to drive the buses, sweep the streets, flip the burgers and operate the checkout at the supermarket et cetera, et cetera

    I've been to several cities where busses have been replaced by automated trams. Street sweeping isn't done by guys with brooms anymore, it's done by guys driving around (slow-moving) vehicles. They're no harder to automate than a roomba. Most supermarkets have self-service checkouts and just one security guard to watch half a dozen or more of them, and even that wouldn't be required with RFID on the product tags. Burger flipping is probably around for a little while longer - it's not hard to design a machine that would cook and assemble fast food burger (it's simpler than many automated factory tasks), but the human is so cheap in comparison to the machine that it would take a good few years to break even and the human is more flexible when you want to change the menu.

    If these people had been stakeholders in the businesses introducing automation, then it would have been fine: as they were replaced by robots they'd have just had more free time and less work. Unfortunately, we've concentrated ownership in a small subset of the population and are trying to fudge the gap with welfare payments, paid out of a general fund and not by the people making profits from the trend.

  • It's simple. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Alex Belits ( 437 ) * on Monday July 23, 2012 @03:54PM (#40740783) Homepage

    There is one absolutely unavoidable consequence of this -- for most people it will be absolutely pointless to do any work they don't want to do. Better yet, any attempt to "motivate" people to do anything would result in damage to the economy because their work will be unneeded, unwanted and worse than anything done without them.

    What means, Capitalism as an economic system will be over. Sure, there will be "capitalists" eager to enforce their "property rights" over things made by robots, but wide availability of robots would strip those people of any power to dictate who can build and control more robots, so society will eventually acknolwedge that it does not matter who owns what when anyone can build a device that will build devices that eventually will build a kingdom. Preservation of natural resources will be a much more fundamental problem, and solutions will have to deal with that -- obviously not through distributing "ownership" of natural resources to random assholes.

    And you know what? It does not matter what you will try to do. It does not matter what kind of society you, or your masters will try to build. What I have described is the inevitable result. And I welcome it.


Remember to say hello to your bank teller.