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The future of U.S. manufacturing: Nanotech, 3D printing, and self-aware factories

by Laura Domela

March 12, 2012 at 1:35 PM

flickr-carbon-nanotube-124782973_1dbf016ac0_b.jpeg

President Barack Obama reportedly asked Steve Jobs what it would take to bring iPhone manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. to which Jobs replied, “Those jobs aren’t coming back.”

The exchange, according to a Jan. 12, 2012 report in the New York Times, occurred in Feb. 2011 at a dinner in Silicon Valley. The late Steve Jobs was right. Even though advances in automation, 3D printing, and the rising costs of labor in China will cause manufacturing to return to U.S. shores, we won’t need the millions of factory workers we needed in the past. That’s because the manufacturing jobs we need filled today are different from the ones we sent abroad. These jobs require fewer workers with very different skills.

Does that mean we are we destined to suffer from chronic unemployment? Far from it. We will create new types of jobs in industries that we have not even conceived of yet. These jobs are likely to raise our standards of living, improve our quality of life, and unleash our creativity. 
via Venture Beat

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Rendering of a carbon nanotube by Geoff Hutchinson/Flickr.

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