Making the World of the Future

Additive manufacturing, hyper-customization and 4D printing are putting the future at your fingertips.

This is Part 2 of a five-part white paper series called Routes to the Future, in which we explore the innovations, challenges and opportunities in a new era of possibilities.

The way we make the world around us – how we design, produce, deliver and reclaim the objects of everyday life – will follow new routes. We are trekking down many of these routes today but have just scratched the surface of where such journeys will take us.

That’s the premise behind this second installment in our Routes to the Future series, which explores trends disrupting the business landscape during the next decade – and beyond.

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The manufacturing space is undergoing one of the most rapid transformations of all industries.

The manufacturing space is undergoing one of the most rapid transformations of all industries.

In coming years, our ability to manufacture the world we want, tailoring it to our exact specifications, will change how and where we manufacture what we need, how we track what we make and how we close the cycle of material use and reclamation.

In this volume, we’ll examine the mobile movement in manufacturing, analyzing the shift from massive facilities and inventories to nimble, on-the-go production and hyper-customization.

We know this metamorphosis has already reshaped retail. But how exactly will we shop in this new world?

Who owns this future – a future where we’ll routinely 3D print objects the way we print photographs today? And finally, how will we protect rights to engineered materials and other intellectual property?

Like many companies, automation is making us more productive and changing our business model. But we’ve found that automation works best when coupled with human ingenuity.

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Automation works best when coupled with human ingenuity.

In coming years, manufacturers must also determine when and where to deploy automation while confronting tricky questions about what this growing reliance on machines portends for the future of work.

We’re bullish on 3D printing because we believe it’s the future of manufacturing. But that’s just the beginning.

In fact, we’re heading toward a 4D-printed world where objects can be programmed to move, adapt to their environment and transform objects altogether.

It is a world beyond the Internet of Things. It is a world of limitless possibility.

This is how we’ll get there.

Editor’s note: If interactive links in the report are not functional, please clear your cache and re-download the report.

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Juan Perez is Chief Information and Engineering Officer at UPS.

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