March 27, 2014 12:00 am JST

Introduction: Remaking the makers

Like all industries, manufacturing changes with the times. But the most striking difference between the factories of yesterday and today isn't what comes off the assembly line -- it's the assembly line itself.

     Every step of the process is getting a technological twist. R&D prototypes now come courtesy of 3-D printers, assembly machines are able to adjust their own settings on the fly and quality control is often left to unblinking robotic sensors.

     Asia, long reliant on plentiful, low-cost labor and cheap materials to fuel its numerous factories, is taking center stage in this transformation. Armed with new methods and know-how, manufacturers are turning the region into a hot spot for producing more valuable products more efficiently.