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The year of 2016 brought many new and exiting developments for the manufacturing industry. We saw the sector expand partially due to advancing technology that increased productivity for companies. Here are the top 4 trends to keep an eye out for in manufacturing for 2017. Some of these trends are well underway, and some are on the cusp of a breakthrough.

Green Manufacturing
We will see green manufacturing to grow further in the 2017 year as more companies will use technology that will not only be environmentally beneficial, but also cost effective. Reduction of waste that is outputted is one of the ways green manufacturing will create a leaner operation. In addition, renewable energy is able to bring overall costs down for a manufacturer, which will help the bottom line for both the operator and consumer. Green manufacturing will be a great way to bring in additional customers in 2017 as more and more consumers are looking for environmentally friendly alternatives.

Automation, while not entirely new to the industry, will see a continued rapid growth thanks to the growing field of robotics. These machines make it easier for companies to stream line their operations, as they will cut down on waste, which in return will bring greater returns. Advancing technology will allow manufacturers to accurately interpret data that managers can then use to increase a robotics’ efficiency and job productivity. Growth in automation also means growth in job opportunities as well. Expect to see manufacturers to increase hiring in duties that require analyzing and interpreting data that technology produces.

3D Printing
The area of 3D printing has revolutionized manufacturing within this past decade alone. In 2017 we expect the use of this technology to climb, as benefits of the technology will increase and costs of ownership drop. 3D printing allows for quicker creations of prototypes. Materials that are used to print objects are also expected to surge. For example, Graphene, which is considered a new printable medium, is seen as incredibly strong, flexible, and conductive. We forecast the popularity of Graphene, and materials like it, to develop in the New Year.

American-Made Manufacturing
The return of manufacturing to the U.S, or restoring, has been steadily increasing since 2011. Companies are discovering that production based closer to their centralized market reduces lead times and thusly greatly improves their customer relation management. Many insiders are also finding out that oversea productions are resulting in lower quality products, proprietary issues, and theft. New regulations that are expected to take place in 2017 will also make manufacturing in America more appealing to companies thinking about moving their factories to another country.

Click here to read additional manufacturing trends in 2017.