Digital technology is poised to reinvent a sector that might seem immune from the world of digital ones and zeros: manufacturing.

Additive_Man._Hand_SmallAbout 20 miles east of Pittsburgh, the former heart of the nation’s steel industry, a small company called ExOne is churning out a new generation of stainless steel boat propellers, oil pump parts and door knobs.

But there are no clanging hammers, wheezing presses or even computer-controlled milling machines.

Instead, a dozen 3-D printers quietly stitch together industrial parts by meticulously spreading hundreds or thousands of layers of powdered metal onto a canvas until they form three-dimensional shapes.

This minimalist factory exemplifies the latest chapter of the industrial revolution, one that could make U.S. manufacturing more competitive globally and could bring more jobs back to the United States.

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Source: Paul Davidson | USA Today
Image: Oak Ridge National Labroatory