Open-source design

The maker movement is so cool. I really think t...

Published Nov 5, 2012 in Maker

The maker movement is so cool. I really think the next big thing is scalable manufacturing. The ability to build 1 or 2 of something, then scale that design up to thousands or millions in a straight foward manner.

Designers are beginning to go “open source”, allowing users to download tweakable templates for everyday objects like furniture. “Ship information not stuff!” declares the website for AtFab , which is spearheading the trend along with SketchChair and MakeMe. Both AtFab and SketchChair specialise in homewares that can be put together from flat interlocking pieces of wood or acrylic. They are cut from a digital file by a laser-cutter or a computer numerical control (CNC) mill—machines which are becoming increasingly cheap and common. SketchChair also offers software that lets you draw-on components like legs, and test the physics of the chair against a manikin sized to the proportions of your body.

“The idea of a ‘factory’ is, in a word, changing,” writes Chris Anderson, a journalist and entrepreneur, in his new book , “Makers: The New Industrial Revolution”. “Just as the Web democratised innovation in bits, a new class of ‘rapid prototyping’ technologies, from 3-D printers to laser cutters, is democratising innovation in atoms.” Mr Anderson is an advocate of the “maker” movement , a community that champions the digital and the do-it-yourself. He believes that mass customisation could re-energise manufacturing, create environmentally responsible jobs, and empower consumers to surround themselves with objects uniquely tailored to their needs.

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Published Nov 5, 2012 in Science