MIT’s 2018 “breakthrough” technologies showcases advancements that the organization believes will have a profound effect on our lives. Here are two technologies on this list that manufacturers should be paying attention to:
3-D Metal Printing
This technology is getting less expensive and easier to utilize, and the effect on manufacturing could be profound, particularly for industries that are low-volume, or made-to-order. Manufacturers wouldn’t need to hold as much inventory since they could just print a part as needed. Producing on-demand means manufacturers could be more responsive and adapt faster to customers’ changing requirements. This next evolution could impact how metal is used. Metal 3-D technology is capable of creating lighter, stronger parts, and complex shapes, meaning companies could consider using metal for more complex applications than ever before. This is in part due to methods that deliver more precise control of the microstructure of metals, which presents more opportunities to expand the use and application of metal.
Machine learning holds a lot of potential for the manufacturing industry, and by extension, its supply chain. The ability for machines to suggest better and more efficient ways of producing products based on past data could completely revolutionize the industry. In a recent post on Forbes.com, a manufacturing plant in Japan uses robots that built themselves, test themselves, and inspect themselves. Though this plant is one of-a-kind and one of the world’s first “lights-out factories,” it proves that the idea of use of artificial intelligence (AI) in manufacturing is viable, and not so far off.
While it may seem as though these technologies are decades away, the reality is that these very real applications are already influencing the industry.
Download our State of Manufacturing Technology Report to learn which technologies your peers are implementing today and plan to implement in the next few years.