Printing as a Manufacturing Process to be Explored at Two Conferences

CARRABASSETT VALLEY, ME—May 16, 2011—As the world continues to “go digital” at an amazing rate, the impact on two very important segments of the economy—printing and manufacturing—are predicted to be both transforming and disruptive.

According to IMI President Al Keene, “Although change is often resisted and brings new challenges to our lives, huge new opportunities are being generated by the ‘digitalization’ of our world. The new business opportunities and transformation potential in the printing and manufacturing industries are the main focus of our two June conferences, the ‘4th Annual Digital Printing Presses – Road Map to 2020 Conference’ on June 20-22, 2011 and the ‘1st Digital Manufacturing – Opportunities for Manufacturing Rebirth Conference’ on June 22-24, 2011, both at the Hollywood Beach Marriott in Hollywood, FL.”

Manufacturing of all types has certainly had a rough road for the past several years. With the impact of the economic recession and the migration of manufacturing activities to countries with lower cost structures; manufacturers are looking for opportunities to improve productivity, improve production economics and distinguish their products in an increasingly competitive world environment. Digital manufacturing offers great potential to provide these benefits.

A Feb, 10, 2011, article in The Economist—entitled, “Print Me a Stradavarius: how a new manufacturing technology will change the world,”—asserted, “The industrial revolution of the late 18th century made possible the mass production of goods, thereby creating economies of scale which changed the economy—and society—in ways that nobody could have imagined at the time. Now a new manufacturing technology has emerged which does the opposite. Three-dimensional printing makes it as cheap to create single items as it is to produce thousands and thus undermines economies of scale. It may have as profound an impact on the world as the coming of the factory did.”

And, the article went on to say, “But 3D printing has now improved to the point that it is starting to be used to produce the finished items themselves. It is already competitive with plastic injection-molding for runs of around 1,000 items, and this figure will rise as the technology matures. And because each item is created individually, rather than from a single mould, each can be made slightly differently at almost no extra cost. Mass production could, in short, give way to mass customization for all kinds of products, from shoes to spectacles to kitchenware.”

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