Control theory, operational research, Automatique, recherche opérationnelle, Sciences exactes et technologie, Exact sciences and technology, Sciences appliquees, Applied sciences, Genie mecanique. Construction mecanique, Mechanical engineering. Machine design, Généralités, General, Dextérité, Dexterity, Destreza, Employé, Employee, Empleado, Modélisation, Modeling, Modelización, Processus fabrication, Production process, Proceso fabricación, Procédé fabrication, Manufacturing process, Procedimiento fabricación, Produit industriel, Industrial product, Producto industrial, Produit manufacturé, Manufactured product, Producto manufacturado, Profession, Profesión, Prothèse, Prosthesis, Prótesis, Prototypage rapide, Rapid prototyping, Prototipificación rápida, Satisfaction professionnelle, Job satisfaction, Satisfacción profesional, Job characteristics model, Prosthetics, Rapid manufacturing, and Skills
Rapid manufacturing (RM) is an emerging technology that is set to revolutionize how products are manufactured. Past research has centred on processes, materials and costing, neglecting the vital issue of how the implementation of this new technology will affect the skills of workers. This work aims to evaluate how the skills of professionals working in the field of prosthetics are likely to be affected by the introduction of RM. Currently a highly skilled, manual process, this paper explores the hypothesis that the manufacture of prosthetic sockets would change fundamentally with the introduction of RM technology. This was evaluated through the use of the job characteristics model, which assesses the skills change and job satisfaction implications of applying new technology to traditional manufacturing processes. Conclusions showed that RM would have a significant impact on job roles in the prosthetics industry. Analysis found a positive outlook for the prosthetist, with the new technology increasing computer-based skills, and traditional prosthetic skills continuing to be used. The prosthetic technician bears the major impact, deskilled by the loss of many of the craft skills. However, the new role may appeal to the younger generation, and lowered skill requirements may help increase prosthetics services worldwide.