Jun.26, 2013

Back in 2012 an article by The Economist described 3D printing as a "third industrial revolution".

"As manufacturing goes digital, a third great change is now gathering pace. It will allow things to be made economically in much smaller numbers, more flexibly and with a much lower input of labour, thanks to new materials, completely new processes such as 3D printing, easy-to-use robots and new collaborative manufacturing services available online."

3D printing does not herald the arrival of the third industrial revolution, said Terry Gou, the president of Foxconn Technology Group, the world's largest electronics contract manufacturer.

Gou described the fledgling manufacturing process as nothing more than hyperbolic gimmickry. "If it really is that good, then I'll write my surname 'Gou' backwards." said Gou to Taiwan media on Monday.

"3D printing is a gimmick", said Gou. He explained that Foxconn had been using 3D printing for nearly three decades. However 3D printing is not suitable for mass production, and it doesn't have any commercial value, said Gou.

Citing the example of a mobile phone, Gou said that it might be possible to manufacture a phone model using 3D printing, but it will not be operational. 3D printers could not assemble electronic components or mass produce them. In addition, Gou said 3D printers were currently incapable of printing leather, that means 3D printed products are very fragile and unsuitable for daily use.

Any industry should response quickly to market demands, 3D printing was not necessarily the key to manufacturing's future, said Gou. Foxconn was originally a trade name of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Ltd. and was founded by Gou in 1974. It is estimated that Foxconn assemble around 40 percent of all consumer electronics products sold. It's major customers include Acer, Amazon, Apple, Cisco, Dell, Google, HP, Microsoft, Nintendo, Nokia and Sony, etc. Gou said, Foxconn's success relies on its diversified product integration.

Despite Gou's dismissive outlook toward 3D printing, the process has become a global trend over the past year and has been adopted by various companies across industries. The consumer electronics giant Panasonic recently announced that 3D printers will be used to produce parts needed for the production of molds, and Panasonic estimates that the production cost could be greatly reduced by approximately 30%.



Posted in 3D Printing Technology



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Michael Petch wrote at 3/1/2014 8:14:45 PM:

As one of the authors of 3D Printing: Rise of the Third Industrial Revolution I would disagree with a number of statements made by Gou.

Binda wrote at 11/15/2013 2:40:50 AM:


James Archer wrote at 9/23/2013 7:20:21 PM:

who knows,really

Suti wrote at 7/5/2013 11:53:48 AM:

This man cannot be considered objective. Nor can he be said to have future-predicting powers.

Ken Olsen wrote at 7/5/2013 11:22:35 AM:

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." Ken Olsen

xvart wrote at 6/30/2013 8:56:16 AM:

wow ignarant or scared, not sure which, but a pick and place machine looks like a 3 d printer, it just prints(places chunks) onto a substrate (board), which sounds very similar to the concept for a biological priter that prints differing cell types as it moves. The proliferation of 3d printers should also bring the cost of pick and place machines down to the workshop level. I can already get PCB designs of the web, someone just needs to build a PCB printer then this guy goes broke.

notasquatter wrote at 6/30/2013 5:06:54 AM:

"It's the patents stupid" that is why there has been so little progress over the past 20 years in additive manufacturing. Most of the key patent holders have just been sitting on their old tech and selling a few machines at a high margin, and the materials at even higher margins. Most materials for FDM and SLA are as low a cost to produce as materials for injection molding. The printers are also not that complex and the BOM's are far below the sale prices. Mr. Gou's history is correct, but he is just not aware of the progress being made in places outside of the patent racket.

Anon wrote at 6/26/2013 6:14:44 PM:

As the leader of quite possibly the #1 company for assembling small, cost-efficient goods on the order of millions, he's very right - for his business. Even a 10% increase in per-unit cost is far too much for someone like Foxconn to pay, and they'll gladly do custom tooling to get per-unit costs lower given the volumes they work in. No, the 3D printing revolution will be that for only a 10-20% cost premium per unit, you can avoid the $20,000 mold costs, the tooling costs, the training costs for the employees working the machines, and so forth. It won't help his business (or anyone making over a million of a given part) but it'll completely revolutionize everything under 1,000 units, that's for sure.

jd90 wrote at 6/26/2013 4:50:11 PM:

FFF / FDM doesn't seem to be the way of the future, but that's just one technology. I think it's too soon to write it off like that. 3D printing might be over hyped, I don't think it's going to go away as a consumer hobbyist technology.

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