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Simply put, manufacturing is the process of fabricating useful products from raw materials.  Prior to the nineteenth century, most manufacturing was done in household or small workshop settings.  During the early nineteenth century, however, resourceful textile manufacturers began to use machines that were driven by water power.  The use of such machines enabled operations to be consolidated in single locations that became known as factories.  The factory system was subsequently adopted by the leather goods industry as well as other industries. 

During the mid-nineteenth century, manufacturing activities grew rapidly, and by the 1840s, technological advances in machine tools enabled standardized interchangeable parts to be produced efficiently.  This, in turn, revolutionized manufacturing methods in various industries and opened the way for mass production systems and assembly lines.  Coal production increased during this period as well, making it possible to locate steam-powered mills away from running streams. The ingenuity of inventors provided further impetus to manufacturing growth.  For example, in 1830, the United States Patent Office (USPO) issued patents for 544 new inventions, whereas in 1860, the USPO issued patents for 4,778 new inventions!

In recent decades, efficient communication and transportation infrastructures as well as international trade agreements have encouraged manufacturers to locate factories in—and relocate factories to—countries that offer favorable business climates and low production costs.

Manufacturing-related organizations include the National Association of Manufacturers as well as various specialized and localized organizations.

manufacturing - factory silhouette
Manufacturing Factory

The video below illustrates a widely used manufacturing process, and the following links include page titles and summaries for reference articles, directory pages, and captioned images about manufacturing themes.

Milling Machine Operation (Collage)

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