WIRED | 7/11/2018 | Jason Pontin
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Factories, the chief innovation of the industrial revolution, are cathedrals of productivity, built to shelter specialized processes and encourage the division of labor.

Adam Smith, who illuminated their function on the first page of The Wealth of Nations, offered the celebrated example of a pin factory: “I have a seen a small manufactory… where ten men only were employed, and where some of them consequently performed two or three distinct operations. [They] could make among them upwards of forty-eight thousand pins a day… Separately and independently… they certainly could not each of them have made twenty, perhaps not one pin a day.”

Benefits - Factories - Limitations - Products - Factory

But the benefits of factories suggest their limitations. They are not reprogrammable: To make different products, a factory must retool with different machines. Thus, the first product shipped is much more expensive than the next million, and innovation is hobbled by need for capital expenditure and is never rapid. More, specialization compels multinational businesses to circle the globe with supply chains and warehouses, because goods must be shipped and stored.

Jason Pontin (@jason_pontin) is an Ideas contributor for WIRED. He was formerly the editor in chief and publisher of MIT Technology Review; before that he was the editor of Red Herring. Now he is a senior partner at Flagship Pioneering, a firm in Boston that funds companies that solve problems in health, food, and sustainability. Pontin does not write about Flagship’s portfolio companies nor about their competitors.

Desktop - Metal - Machines - Printing - Revolution

To grasp why Desktop Metal’s machines are so important, it’s necessary to understand “the 3D printing revolution that wasn’t.” For all the froth surrounding the idea of 3D printing half a decade ago, actual 3D printers were disappointing: most consumers didn’t want the things that 3D printers made, and manufacturers wanted things that 3D printers couldn’t make at all.

3D printing could transform manufacturing. But almost...
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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