3D Printing has Reached the Upper Echelons of US Politics — 2013 State of the Union Address

President Obama’s State of the Union address yesterday made specific reference to 3D printing within the context of bringing manufacturing back to the US.

Here’s the full section of the address that covers the issue:

“After shedding jobs for more than 10 years, our manufacturers have added about 500,000 jobs over the past three. Caterpillar is bringing jobs back from Japan. Ford is bringing jobs back from Mexico. After locating plants in other countries like China, Intel is opening its most advanced plant right here at home. And this year, Apple will start making Macs in America again.

There are things we can do, right now, to accelerate this trend. Last year, we created our first manufacturing innovation institute in Youngstown, Ohio. A once-shuttered warehouse is now a state-of-the art lab where new workers are mastering the 3D printing that has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything. There’s no reason this can’t happen in other towns. So tonight, I’m announcing the launch of three more of these manufacturing hubs, where businesses will partner with the Departments of Defense and Energy to turn regions left behind by globalization into global centers of high-tech jobs. And I ask this Congress to help create a network of fifteen of these hubs and guarantee that the next revolution in manufacturing is Made in America.”

To provide context, this excerpt came after Obama talked about the economy and jobs and before he moved onto R&D and energy.

First, the positives — this mention of 3D printing, by arguably the most powerful person in the Western world, will, undoubtedly, be the single most influential mention the technology has received to date. From my perspective that is a really good thing, an audience of multi-millions of Americans and some further afield will have heard about 3D printing for the first time last night.

Disappointingly, he talked about it in revolutionary terms – politicians do like their bandwagons! I doubt he has a personal understanding of the technology in its many forms, but he — or more likely his advisors — have grasped the potential it offers and NAMII is obviously proving successful for them. I have only seen a handful of responses to the 3D printing reference in the address so far, but they are mixed. Similar to my own sentiments. I believe in the good that 3D printing can do but my faith in politicians (generally motivated by power and greed) is all but extinct — it’s hard to unite these when they are on the same page at the same time.

I know of at least one US citizen that is not happy with the way that NAMII is evolving, hopefully more on that soon. In the meantime – here at 3DPI we would appreciate your feedback on this — what do you think?