RADICAL IDEAS FOR MANUFACTURING: THE SMALL FACTORY

In our work with large corporations, we’re typically engaged in thinking about expanding the size of the operation, for optimum efficiency.  One of the most creative ideas that I’ve heard of recently comes from Kevin Czinger who plans to usher in a new manufacturing era for cities like Cleveland – cities that have suffered during the past 2 decades from the decline of manufacturing in the U.S.  Czinger has built prototypes of both a sports car and a motorcycle using his patented approach to manufacturing using new digital technologies like 3-D metal printing.  He has teamed up with Groupe PSA in France (Peugeot and Citroen) to utilize miniature auto factories in the U.S.  (located in properties the size of a large grocery store) to produce a variety of test vehicles, including van/shuttles as well as more traditional vehicles.  His company, Divergent 3D, is poised to set the auto industry on its ear – they can provide miniature manufacturing plants for around $50 million, whereas the current plant costs $500 million to $1 billion to build.  The miniature plants are expected to provide production lines of 20,000 vehicles a year using the process of “distributive manufacturing” – that is, producing what is needed in a timely manner.  Talk about excitement for the future of manufacturing in America!  Happy New Year, 2018!

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