CIRAS DIGEST: Friday, May 6, 2016

  • To begin with,The Street has a report from IDC saying that there will be $27 billion spent on 3-D printers in 2019, compared to $11 billion in 2015.
  • In a similar note, a site calledManufacturing Business Technology has a story detailing how 3-D printing will change the relationship between manufacturers and their customers. The upshot: In the future, you might not be able to count on selling replacement parts.
  • ICYMI, U.S. manufacturing was up slightly in April. Reuters earlier this week quoted a guy who used a tortoise-and-the-hare metaphor. (We’re the turtle.)
  • Closer to home, the Mason City Globe Gazette has an article describing the civic soul searching that’s going on there after City Council member deadlocked over a $250 million pork processing plant. The proposal, which had significant community opposition, is now dead as far as Mason City is concerned. Conversations are ongoing about what this means for industries that get targeted by city economic development officials in the future.
  • Forbes has a piece on the “self-described ‘hubris’ ” of Tesla Motors’ manufacturing executives, two of whom departed this week over production problems. CEO Elon Musk, speaking during a Wednesday corporate earnings announcement, issued an open solicitation for manufacturing people in search of a new job. (You’re supposed to call him if you’re interested.)
  • If you’re interested in the Industrial Internet or smart machines, you might want to check out this Industry Week story, which involves “brilliant factories” at GE. There aren’t many usable details here, except for GE’s guestimate of the predicted eventual economic impact of their efforts to make changes to a plant in South Carolina. The figure touted is $100 million over three years.
  • Meanwhile, a website called The Globalist has a piece touting a new book about how American Rust Belt cities may be the next hot places to start manufacturing companies. According to this piece, the book’s authors “came to the realization that the winners in global business will increasingly be those manufacturers who can produce smart, not cheap. For the turnaround to happen, we don’t need the massive trade walls that Trump wants to erect to keep out Chinese goods. Rather, we need to understand that right now there are new industries rising and whole new approaches to manufacturing being established in the U.S. and in Western Europe that could well serve as leading models for far-reaching economic revival based on smart production.” A key factor? Partnering with universities.
  • And finally, Harvard Business Review has a piece (theoretically aimed at presidential politicians) that dissects various reasons why trade protectionism doesn’t work. The final sentence says it all: “While simple solutions to the very complex problem of restoring manufacturing jobs to the United States may sound great, a future president had better understand the problem in great depth lest he or she inadvertently make the problem worse.”

Thanks for reading.

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