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Assembly of Section 41 of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Manufacturing (from Latin manu factura, "making by hand") is the use of tools and labor to make things for use or sale. The term may refer to a range of human activity, from handicraft to high tech, but is most commonly applied to industrial production, in which raw materials are transformed into finished goods on a large scale.

Manufacturing takes place under all types of economic systems. In a free market economy, manufacturing is usually directed toward the mass production of products for sale to consumers at a profit. In a collectivist economy, manufacturing is more frequently directed by the state to supply a centrally planned economy. In free market economies, manufacturing occurs under some degree of government regulation.

Modern manufacturing includes all intermediate processes required for the production and integration of a product's components. Some industries, such as semiconductor and steel manufacturers use the term fabrication instead.

The manufacturing sector is closely connected with engineering and industrial design. Examples of major manufacturers in the United States include General Motors Corporation, Ford Motor Company, Chrysler, Boeing, Gates Rubber Company and Pfizer. Examples in Europe include France's Airbus and Michelin Tire.


  • The economics and commercial of a company is covered in Business.
  • The classification of those Businesses is covered in Industry.
  • The economic decisions taken within this activity is covered in Production.
  • The law as applied to businesses is covered in Commercial Law.
  • The general management of a business is in Management (see also: General manager).
  • The political impact of the development of industry is covered in Political economy
  • The use of computer technology is covered by Product Lifecycle Management, Advanced Planning and Scheduling and Scheduling (production processes)

History and development

  • In its earliest form, manufacturing was usually carried out by a single skilled artisan with assistants. Training was by apprenticeship. In much of the pre-industrial world the guild system protected the privileges and trade secrets of urban artisans.
  • Before the Industrial Revolution, most manufacturing occurred in rural areas, where household-based manufacturing served as a supplemental subsistence strategy to agriculture (and continues to do so in places). Entrepreneurs organized a number of manufacturing households into a single enterprise through the putting-out system.
  • The beginnings of modern industrial manufacturing are covered in the Industrial Revolution article.
  • The development of the modern manufacturing facility is covered in the factory article.
  • The development of the applied science behind manufacturing is covered in the industrial process article.
  • Toll manufacturing is an arrangement whereby a first firm with specialized equipment processes raw materials or semi-finished goods for a second firm.

Manufacturing systems: The changing methods of manufacturing

  • Craft or Guild system
  • Putting-out system
  • English system of manufacturing
  • American system of manufacturing
  • Soviet collectivism in manufacturing
  • Mass production
  • Just In Time manufacturing
  • Lean manufacturing
  • Flexible manufacturing
  • Mass customization
  • Agile manufacturing
  • Rapid manufacturing
  • Prefabrication
  • Ownership
  • Fabrication
  • Publication

Economics of manufacturing

According to some economists, manufacturing is a wealth-producing sector of an economy, whereas a service sector tends to be wealth-consuming. Emerging technologies have provided some new growth in advanced manufacturing employment opportunities in the Manufacturing Belt in the United States. Manufacturing provides important material support for national infrastructure and for national defense.

On the other hand, most manufacturing may involve significant social and environmental costs. The clean-up costs of hazardous waste, for example, may outweigh the benefits of a product that creates it. Hazardous materials may expose workers to health risks. Developed countries regulate manufacturing activity with labor laws and environmental laws. In the U.S, manufacturers are subject to regulations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the United States Environmental Protection Agency. In Europe, pollution taxes to offset environmental costs are another form of regulation on manufacturing activity. Labor Unions and craft guilds have played a historic role negotiation of worker rights and wages. Environment laws and labor protections that are available in developed nations may not be available in the third world. Tort law and product liability impose additional costs on manufacturing.

Manufacturing in Britain

There has been a considerable amount of research on factors affecting manufacturing growth and performance in modern Britain. Major focuses have been on:

  • general trends in manufacturing and the UK economy as a whole;
  • specific factors affecting the growth and performance of individual manufacturing firms and industries;
  • new product developments, market trends, and other wider business-economic environmental influences;
  • plant-level managerial and industrial organizational aspects of manufacturing production; and
  • political-legal, educational and training, and other wider societal influences on manufacturing growth, investment, and investment returns.

Britain was the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and is still one of the most attractive countries in the world for direct foreign industrial investment. However, UK manufacturing firms and industries often significantly lag behind their overseas competitors in terms of productivity and various other key performance measures. Of late, such things as increases in taxation and regulation have also diminished the favourableness of the political-legal environment for British industry generally.

Manufacturing and investment around the world

Surveys and analyses of trends and issues in manufacturing and investment around the world focus on such things as:

  • the nature and sources of the considerable variations that occur cross-nationally in levels of manufacturing and wider industrial-economic growth;
  • competitiveness; and
  • attractiveness to foreign direct investors.

In addition to general overviews, researchers have examined the features and factors affecting particular key aspects of manufacturing development. They have compared production and investment in a range of Western and non-Western countries and presented case studies of growth and performance in important individual industries and market-economic sectors.

Taxonomy of manufacturing processes

Taxonomy of manufacturing processes

Manufacturing Process Management

Manufacturing categories

  • Chemical industry
    • Pharmaceutical
  • Construction
  • Electronics
  • Engineering
    • Biotechnology
    • Emerging technologies
    • Nanotechnology
    • Synthetic biology, Bioengineering
  • Energy industry
  • Food and Beverage
  • Industrial design
    • Interchangeable parts
  • Metalworking
    • Smith
    • Machinist
    • Machine tools
    • Free machining
    • Tool and die maker
    • Global steel industry trends
    • Steel production
  • Plastics
  • Telecommunications
  • Textile manufacturing
    • Clothing industry
    • Sailmaker
    • Tentmaking
  • Transportation
    • Aerospace manufacturing
    • Automobile manufacturing
    • Bus manufacturing
    • Tire manufacturing


  • Taylorism
  • Fordism
  • Scientific management


  • Management
    • List of management topics
    • Total Quality Management
  • Quality control
    • Six Sigma
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