On the USS Enterprise: “Tea. Earl Grey. Hot” and a cuppa would magically appear, via the Replicator. Here now, the Replicator exists – limited but here, 3D printers, laser cutters, and digitally controlled milling machines are here and priced for consumption. The Replicator, marketed by MakerBot Industries, costs $US1, 750, “fits on a desktop, and prints designs, made by the user or downloaded from the Web, using a nozzle similar to the one in an inkjet printer, spewing successive layers of molten plastic onto a moving platform. As each new layer of plastic is laid, a plastic mug begins to rise. Depending on its size, it might take 45 minutes to complete”.
With some imagination you can conjure whatever, and print instant prototypes to manufacturers who want to customize small batches of products. The operative here is making by makers and encouraged by maker spacers. This concept encourages community workshops, where tools and expertise is shared. According to Anderson, the editor-in-chief of Wired, knights “these makers as future industrialists will drive a new age of manufacturing”.
It is just another story of innovation, how change is made by the courageous that dare. Imagine if the Web was too difficult, how the world would not be aware of the what is changed in the world – possibly before it was too late to realise the damage done, why the information really could be distributed, and sped up in time for us to make a difference. Think how the diffusion of information created business opportunities along the way, how we become flexible enough to change.
CO2Land org considers how these changes lead to desktop production and design as a means of change in manufacturing. It will move from the process of capital rising to a flexible one based on creativity. Anderson’s estimation is the change will be orders of magnitude with direct effects on the economy. In developed economies the Web is significant but currently a lower economic driver than making, moving and selling consumer goods. Anderson accounts in the US less than 20 percent of U.S. gross domestic product is currently originated via the web. That will change, at first seemingly in an amateur way, and Anderson again writes, “It’s exactly what happened with the Web, which was colonized first by technology and media companies, who used it to do better than what they already did. Then software and hardware advances made the Web easier to use for regular folks (it was ‘democratized’), and they charged in with their own ideas, expertise, and energy. Today the vast majority of the Web is built by amateurs, semipro, and people who don’t work for big technology and media companies.”
CO2Land org postulates it is about individuals, with ideas that grow and evolve by those that dare to dream and develop the dream. As we evolve we develop tools and be a revolution in different ways, as an inventor as an engineer, as a designer. Why quote Anderson? In 2007 he started a company called DIY Drones, which sells open source mini helicopters and airplanes with programmable autopilot. Most of the design work comes from an online community, which serves both as customer and engineer. The company broke $3 million in revenue last year, and the CEO of DIY Drones never graduated from college but didn’t need to, today there is no need for a résumé, you just have to prove you are capable of extraordinary things.
So what is the reality, unfortunately producability will not allow makers to be largely more important to the economy, this is not disagreeing that makers will increase the impacts of their presence it simple means local production will not meet the demand, it will however produce it’s cool stuff and going to change things. The issue will be inspiration fatigue, and robots don’t get bored with the grunt work of assembling. So we must accept Replicators development will be inspiring, but production will be uplifting with good ole process machines.
This evaluation is a critique of Chris Anderson in Makers: The New Industrial Revolution.