15 May 2014

Do It Yourself

Today's news includes the disturbance that ExOne, a 3D printing company, got hosed. Bad quarterly. 3D Systems and Stratasys have been trading at or near 52 week lows of late. Why is anyone surprised? Some are, of course. Once the hype started, the lemmings nodded sagely and ran off the cliff.

Here's the point: if 3D printing actually made sense for production manufacturing, then all computing devices would be built from FPGAs. The semantics is the same: small volume and high cost, both relative to full-on manufacturing. Not gonna happen.

Which led me to another leg of the stool. While most java-ites know the acronym jit, it came about in manufacturing. Patient zero might be Ford or Taylor, depends on how one measures. Most attribute the current meme to Toyota post WWII. I'd add Deming as a major influence. The current outsourcing to Asia by American manufacturers could be viewed as a repudiation of jit, from the point of view of Americans, since the usual method is to make up a batch of 10,000,000 or so widgets, stuff into containers, put 'em on a boat, and wait three weeks. I wonder if one could make those 10,000,000 widgets at a split level in Ventura with some 3D printers in the course of three weeks?

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