Is 3D Printing Overrated? Not at All, Says GE's Jeffrey Immelt

3D printing is "worth my time, attention, money, and effort," Jeffrey Immelt, chief executive of GE, said at an Atlantic conference today on the future of manufacturing in Washington, D.C.

Also known as "additive manufacturing," 3D printing involves a machine using a digital model to design a solid, complex product from various materials, from a simple sculpture, to a shoe, to -- perhaps? -- an airplane turbine.

Immelt said he understood the difference between "a cartoon" and an idea that's "worth spending a lot of time on": and that 3D printing clearly fits in the latter category.

"3-D printing helps you make the product from the core up so you have less waste," he told Greg Ip, economics editor of The Economist. "The tool is cheaper, the time is faster. If all I thought 3-D printing could do was shoes, I wouldn't be talking about it."

He predicted that manufacturing employment would rise, not only in nominal terms, but also, perhaps, as a share of the economy. One wonders how that might change with the rise of artisan machines.

Presented by

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

What LBJ Really Said About Selma

"It's outrageous what's on TV. It looks like that man is in charge of the country."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

What LBJ Really Said About Selma

"It's going to go from bad to worse."

Video

Does This Child Need Marijuana?

Inside a family's fight to use marijuana oils to treat epilepsy

Video

A Miniature 1950s Utopia

A reclusive artist built this idealized suburb to grapple with his painful childhood memories.

Video

Why Principals Matter

Nadia Lopez didn't think anybody cared about her school. Then the Internet heard her story.

More in Business

Just In