Manufacturing Startup Culture

The Maker Movement: A Bottom-up Industrial Revolution?

According to Chris Anderson of the Guardian, we are entering a Third Industrial Revolution: the age of Makers. Characterized by bottom-up innovation, the Maker movement harnesses the Internet, crowdsourcing, and new manufacturing technologies to make things for the many, by the many. The model is highly entrepreneurial and especially well-suited for niche and customized products because start-up is cheap and there are no economies of scale to be gained. Using fundraising sites like Kickstarter and easy-to-use CAD (computer-aided design) programs, anybody can take a good idea and turn it into a viable product. New and evolving technologies like 3D printing, laser cutting, and CNC (computer numerical control) machines have huge potential for streamlining innovation, especially when made available to the masses, Anderson writes. He even suggests that the Maker movement need not be limited to small-scale production, as the tools can be used as a starting point for large-scale production. Long-term, the Maker movement offers a chance to renew emphasis on the faltering manufacturing industry—essential for the economic success of any nation.

Watch a discussion of these ideas at Techonomy Detroit in the session “The DIY Economy.

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