If you had to choose the top 10 articles for the manufacturing industry over the last couple of years, it is pretty safe to say that the words "additive manufacturing" and "3D Printing" would be included.
If only Darth Vader had access to "3D Printing" when he was building the Death Star. The Rebels may not have won. So, Star Wars fans can be thankful that we aren't all parading around as converted Storm Troopers today.
As I think through the technology that we have seen in movies over the years, it seems impossible that manufacturing hasn't had the ability to do this for years and years. I think that is what makes it even more amazing. People have always had the imagination for creation, but figuring out the technology has been a bit more tedious.
So, here are some of my personal favorite technologies from Star Wars:
1. The ability to go from galaxy to galaxy in hyper-drive. Who remembers Han Solo and the Wookie working on the Millennium Falcon hyper-drive system with a socket wrench?
2. The ability to speak to our dearly departed . . . as holograms. The image of Obi Wan Kenobi appearing to Luke is classic. I am thankful that my own parents did not have the ability to do that.
3. Keeping a human prisoner in carbonite. Han Solo really had the best story line, and I can think of a few people throughout history that have deserved the carbonite treatment.
4. Light Sabers. This should be a no-brainer. An intense light energy source that can be used as a weapon.....Oh Yeah!
This list is really short and you may need to take a trip to Wookieepedia to really explore your own Star Wars technology favorites.
The one thing that is absolutely clear, is that we are witnesses to a point in time when manufacturing technology has graduated from imagination to reality. With the adoption of additive manufacturing, we are seeing less waste, the need for even greater flexibility in the process, and more precise parameters.
As manufacturers begin to explore and implement 3D Printing and Additive manufacturing to increase productivity and profitability, the need for ERP and Enterprise Software that can accommodate the disruption of the previous processes will become even more valuable. So, if an ERP or Enterprise Software purchase is on the horizon, then having a real discussion about whether or not you plan to implement these new technologies in the near future are critical.
Infor's Product Configuration Management software is an excellent example of how Enterprise Software is evolving to accommodate technological changes. With Infor PCM, there is guided product selection, visualization, modeling, testing, and pricing available to create real time opportunity.
So, perhaps if Darth Vader had relied on Infor's PCM and 3D printing, he could have been one step ahead of the Rebels by printing a vented cover for that 2 meter wide thermal exhaust port that the Rebels shot the missiles into - destroying the Death Star. Lucky for us he didn't think that far ahead.