Philly manufacturing no longer dark and dirty; Makers must collaborate


Not Your Grandfather’s Manufacturing wasn’t the title of Wednesday’s Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce event on manufacturing.

But it could have been, given the panelists on stage at the Hyatt at the Bellevue.

Give up the image of “dark, dirty, dangerous, and underpaid,” with “rows of people doing menial tasks,” said panelist Evan Malone, founder of NextFab, the hardware technology incubator and product development services company in South Philadelphia.

Instead, Malone urged the audience of 160 businesspeople, lawyers, bankers, and workforce-development professionals to think about 3-D printers which can make initial samples of a new product for only $5 to $10 each, eliminating the need to risk $5,000 to $10,000 to make injection-molding tooling just to test out a design with a small number of customers.

That’s the same price, he said, that it would take to use injection-molding technology to spit out a few thousand pieces.

Malone brought up the work done by BioBots, which developed a lower-cost 3-D printer capable of printing various body tissues to one day make new cartilage, a heart valve, or maybe an organ.

The Philadelphia-based company’s 3-D printers, the size of milk crates, represent the new technology, promising to transform factories.

But what is also not your grandfather’s manufacturing turned out to be more old school.

It’s called talking.

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