Makers: The New Industrial Revolution

Wired magazine editor and bestselling author Chris Anderson takes you to the front lines of a new industrial revolution as today’s entrepreneurs, using open source design and 3-D printing, bring manufacturing to the desktop.  In an age of custom-fabricated, do-it-yourself product design and creation, the collective potential of a million garage tinkerers and enthusiasts is about to be unleashed, driving a resurgence of American manufacturing.  A generation of “Makers” using the Web’s innovation model will help drive the next big wave in the global economy, as the new technologies of digital design and rapid prototyping gives everyone the power to invent — creating “the long tail of things”.

Click Here For More Information on 3D Printing

2 thoughts on “Makers: The New Industrial Revolution”

  1. rediscovering the world of things This is a good book on an interesting topic. I run cabinet shop in Toronto and have been prattling to my wife about the remaking of the industrial revolution for a few years now. Anderson sums up many of these themes with lots of interesting stories in an easily readable style. I think there are a few things worth adding. First while digital fabrication technology is amazing it is only as useful as the people using it. A cnc router won’t make you a good cabinet maker any more that a word processor will make you a good writer or a digital synthesizer will make you a good musician. A synthesizer enables a good musician to become a whole orchestra almost instantly. But a bad musician still sounds like a bad musician and a bad writer is just as annoying as ever to read. What these technologies do is allow the talented craftsman, musician, writer to be more productive than ever, and also lower the barriers to entry for the people with talent who are not part of the established social hierarchy. In my own shop I don’t have my own cnc equipment. When I take on a project like a kitchen, I simply email lists of parts (doors, drawers, carvings) to fabricators not far from my shop and in some cases the parts come back to me the next morning. My suppliers don’t stock inventory, they fabricate the parts digitally and so they can produce whatever I want in whatever sizes I want. This is the easy part of my job. The hard part getting the clients to decide on what they want, and figuring out how to fit everything they want into the space they have on their budget. To use a car analogy most clients want something like a “Hummer/Lamborghini/Porsche/Lexus/Rolls” for the price of a Focus. They often send me 3d cad drawings of their dream kitchen. It is nearly always like those famous drawings by Escher. At first glance they seem very geometrically precise, but they can’t exist in 3 dimensional reality. Squaring this circle is always a challenge, and demands a combining the skills of an expert cabinet maker with those of a psychotherapist. The second hard part of my job is fitting cabinets which are always made to be regular shapes into old real houses which are never square or level. Accomplishing this task demands the skills of an expert finish carpenter, tricks that I learned from my grandfather. In short to be a cabinet maker in the digital age you still need all the skills of a traditional cabinet maker. However what digital technology and advances in new technology in general mean is that small shops can now compete with large factories in a way they couldn’t 30 years ago. I can now offer my clients anything that large factory kitchen manufacturers could in the past. For example, 30 years ago complex cabinet door styles could only be made custom at great expense using traditional cabinet shop tools or economically in large batches at big factories. Now I can order 1 door if I need it economically. And, I can beat mass production companies hands down in terms of service and speed.In many cases I can also compete with mass producers on cost. This is because I have lower transaction costs. One of the things that frightens small scale producers is the fact that labour costs of small scale production can’t compete with mass production particularly if the goods can be produced in places like China. People say “They make that thing in China for $5, how can I compete”. However, if the small scale producer sells locally they don’t have to compete with the $5 labour cost in China; they only have to compete with the $50 or $100 retail cost in their local market. The goods that are produced in China have a long list of transaction costs associated with them: transportation, wholesaling, retailing, packaging, inventory, obsolescence, corporate expenses and profit, mass market advertising and promotion. All these costs mean that the widget that is produced for $ 5 needs to sell for $ 50 or $ 100 to make a profit. This leaves lots of room for local artisans to make a living, as long as they keep their transaction costs down. Anderson points out the digital crowd is rediscovering actual reality. I think he does not go far enough in this. People like actual reality. One of the things little noted in the frenzy of the digital revolution is the success of the Home Depot retail model. 30 years ago building materials was a virtual business. Materials were stored in warehouses to which customers both commercial and retail had no access. Most businesses would simply phone the supplier, say what they wanted and give an account number or use a visa and it would be delivered, much like ordering things online but over the phone. Even if you went to a lumber yard, you would usually go to a desk and order things and they would be brought out to you. Home Depot changed all this by putting everything on open shelves so people could go in a play with it. The builders supply became playground for…

  2. A Primer on the Maker Industrial Revolutio The latest book from bestseller author and Wired’s editor in chief Chris Anderson is dedicated to the Maker Movement, what has been dubbed as the [start of the] third industrial revolution.If you never heard about Makers, 3D-printing, digital fabrication, Arduino, Kickstarter, and the new DIY movement, then this book is a great start (also check out the article The third industrial revolution by The Economist).As in his previous books ( and ), Anderson does a great job in explaining a nascent trend in an easy language and with plenty of examples. Much of what he writes about is backed by his personal experience and through his access to key actors of the maker movement.The book tells the story of the maker movement and compares it to the previous industrial revolutions, presenting the thesis that this shift in manufacturing could offer a way for the USA (and the Western world in general) to fend off the predominance of China in the production of physical objects. Anderson explains how manufacturing (“the world of things”), or more appropriately, digital manufacturing, is following the same steps as the Web, which has democratized publishing, broadcasting and communications, into the world of atoms, allowing almost anybody with a smart idea and a little expertise to make those ideas into physical objects.*The Tools of the Maker MovementAnderson describes the basic Maker tools -hardware and software- and their underlying technologies by dedicating a final chapter that describes such tools as:-3D printers – additive processes like Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) or Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)-CNC (computer numerical control) machines – a substractive technology-Laser Cutters (according to Anderson this is the “real workhorse of the Maker Movement […] they’re the digital tool everyone uses first, in part because they’re so simple and foolproof.”)-G-Code (the machine language used by 3D printers, CNC machines and others)-Software like AutoCAD, Adobe Illustrator, Solid Works, Sketchup, TinkerCAD and many others.*Making & Marketing[spoiler]As a marketer, I found interesting the author’s reflections on community building and marketing:”When you’re creating a community from scratch, consider starting it as a social network rather than as a blog or a discussion group. […] One of the key elements of a successful community is content with broad appeal […] such rich, engaging content is marketing — marketing of the community itself, but also of the products that the community has created. Whether they thing of it this way or not, the most successful Makers are also the best marketers. They’re constantly blogging about their progress, and tweeting, too.[…]Of course, it’s not just marketing: the reason that it’s so effective is that it’s also providing something of value that people appreciate and pay attention to. But at the end of the day, everything you do, from the naming of your product to whose coattail you decide to ride (like we chose Arduino), is at least partly a marketing decision.”Stop reading, make somethingThe natural step after reading Makers would be to, well, actually make something. I’ve been playing with Arduinos and have had access to laser cutters and 3D printers in the past, but never really engaged in a project. Now I’ve just joined the Fablab in Torino, Italy, for a practical introductory course to 3D printing and am working on a 2D design to run through a laser cutter, probably at the FabCafe (which as its name implies, is a coffee place with laser cutting machine and soon other maker tools) in Tokyo during my next visit (will report on that when it’s done).[/spoiler]*Who is this book for?If you’re a maker already, this book will add little or nothing to your knowledge but it could be a great gift to offer to those that think you’re kinda crazy and that you waste too much time tinkering at your workbench.

Comments are closed.