Ok, so that title ‘Home Manufacturing – Industrial Revolution 2.0’ sounds dramatic and the point of the article is not that it’s a dramatic thing; but that this revolution is a real long term potential and the trend is emerging now. If we look around us these days, there is an increasing demographic of DIY-er’s; that includes people into 3D printers, crafters and any number of other creative things people are ‘manufacturing’ on their own. I have even seen a homemade robotic factory made of Lego Mindstorms.
As we have increasingly standardized device protocols, part sizes, measuring systems and the like; we therefore increasingly create parts that are interchangeable and are making it easier for people to just build whatever it is that they want. With 3D printers in particular, it’s now increasingly easy to build, or print, anything from tools to toys. This means that it is not access to stuff; but it is who has the best ‘design’ that matters.
Out of this, a number of trends will emerge in the market, including those aforementioned ones, but also a trend around high touch, high end design or ‘experience focused’ design and engineering; or the trend out to do it yourself, but do it ‘better’. Stuff is a commodity, and all knowledge is accessible to all; so it’s that experience focused, high touch experience that matters in terms of the kind of things we will see successful in an idea driven economy. It’s so easy to build and design products that, even at companies that have larger bureaucratic structures that slow the process down, you still have faster and faster turnaround. Case in point is, the company I work for is focused on a line of business applications and device hardware engineering. The two sides of the business virtually are independent from each other. On a call with a client, it became apparent that we had the opportunity to build and design an access control system that replaced Key Cards for access control with a much more ‘customized’ system ,that fit together like Legos, to include very high end access control including biometrics; but without having to design entirely from scratch. One trip to Radio Shack and a pile of Arduino’s DIY micro controllers, a few days and a bit of programming, ‘poof’ and hold up my phone to the door and it opens. The team that built this (now called Vambrace), with hardly any effort, was able to build a working prototype without ever really talking to the side of the business that deals with low level hardware. Just the average sort of tech guy, an idea and away you go.
For virtually anyone, that is fairly technical able, to design and build access control systems that are internet aware using image processing and centrally cloud managed, in under a week, from scratch is amazing. Now granted, we have done a huge amount of research refining that; but there is no reason anyone couldn’t do the same sort of thing, in principal, without really even learning hardware level engineering.
Back on the 3D printers thing… do you know they have a printer that can print itself? Talk about the possibilities… when virtually anything can be had by virtually everyone, where the money will be is in design and experienced focused engineering. It’s not so much just function, but function and cool factor and I can do it myself. If nothing else there will be a paradigm shift to a more creative focused economy of abundance for good or for evil.