New product manufacturing methods and technologies

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When it comes to manufacturing new products, companies are playing with a number of new ideas. Ricardo Bouas, the vice president of cyber-security consulting at Capgemini in the U.S., describes new methods of manufacturing as varied as 3D printing, virtual design and visualization and software simulations. Here are some of the challenges and opportunities as these new technologies evolve. Printers that rapidly produce plastic or metal parts—a process known as "additive manufacturing"—will change the way companies make products. New designers will determine the shape of objects made in this new manufacturing process, which allows objects to be manufactured quickly and relatively inexpensively. The use of virtual-reality tools in the manufacturing process will also expand the possibilities for design. "The big possibility is manufacturing is much more expensive than architects' and engineers' imagination allows us to expect," Bouas says. He points to "flatpack" furniture, which are typically built within a week, but they require a new approach to product development, including choosing the right materials and working with a factory to produce the product on schedule. Virtual-reality tools can be used to generate patterns and visually model a complex product design before implementing the complex production process. Facebook announced recently that it is selling a 3D camera product that consumers can use to build models of their own. By displaying the product, the 3D camera allows customers to visualize and decide what their product will look like. The advent of 3D scanners could also speed up manufacturing of items such as prosthetic limbs by replacing many tools and different parts with a single scanner. This article is reproduced with permission from BlueLine Innovation, a publication of the Detroit Regional Chamber. To view the original, click here. For the latest business news, visit the Detroit Regional Chamber.