10-11-2017 04:17 PM CET - Science & Education

How the Maker Movement Will Influence the Future of America

Press release from: Formaspace
Learn Something New
Learn Something New

Have you tended to dismiss the maker movement as a flash in the pan, a triumph of marketing sizzle over substance? You might want to think again. Like previous technology waves that started out small but ended up big — ranging from personal computers to online commerce, the maker movement is rapidly becoming a mainstream phenomenon with major implications for industry. Makers are poised to transform hardware development and product design in the same way that the open source software movement fueled the rise of new Internet and mobile device software applications.

The Rapid Rise of the Maker Movement into the Mainstream

First, a disclaimer. We know there is nothing new under the sun. Looking back in history, many of the great industrial giants got their start working in garages or small scale laboratories:

• Henry Ford built his first gasoline-powered vehicle in a garage (and famously had to tear down part of a wall to push it outside).

• Both Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla (the inventor, not the car) had a series of laboratories where they tinkered away at new inventions.

• Bill Hewlett and David Packard started developing audio oscillators in their garage at 367 Addison in Palo Alto.

• Prior to their big break selling an operating system for IBM PC computers, Bill Gates and Paul Allen created hardware to automatically measure car traffic.

• Steve Wozniak designed and hand built the first Apple computers (www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2014-12-04/steve-wo...).

Given this history, what makes the maker movement new and different?*

The answer seems to be that the philosophy of the maker movement has hit a critical mass that's now being felt by manufacturers and educators alike.

Not only are the tools of the trade for manufacturing becoming more widely available to individual inventors and artisans, there have been many instances where the level of product innovation and customization coming out of maker spaces has matched or even overtaken that of projects developed in conventional "big company" product development pipelines. The result? Traditional manufacturers are taking a keen interest in maker spaces (formaspace.com/workbench-gallery/#!category/workb...) as a source of innovative product ideas — as well as a source of skilled technical talent.

At the same time, there is hope that incorporating maker spaces into the educational system can finally help deliver those elusive tangible economic benefits long promised by advocates of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) programs.

(* To learn more about the maker movement and maker spaces, read our interview with Mark Emanuel of TechShop, a leading maker space company with locations across the US. )

According to the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) summit report "Envisioning the Future of the Maker Movement," educators will play a critical role in the ultimate success of the maker movement. Indeed, educational institutions and libraries across the country have been ramping up development of maker spaces.** Meanwhile, prestigious engineering schools, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), are taking student's maker portfolios into consideration during the application process.

(** See our article on things educators and librarians should consider when building a maker space. )

Many digital technologies used in maker spaces, such as 3D Printing, are moving from the prototyping stage to production lines as major manufacturers (like Ford Motor Company) use 3D printing (now dubbed "direct digital manufacturing") to create parts. In the video above, John B. Rogers, Jr., CEO and Co-Founder, Local Motors talks about how direct digital manufacturing and micro-manufacturing will revolutionize manufacturing and design processes.

Why the Future of America's Economic Success Belongs to Individual Innovators and Artisans

The barriers to entry for individuals wanting to develop and manufacture innovative products is lower than ever before. Product prototypes that once cost many thousands (if not millions) of dollars can now be created in maker spaces at far lower cost.

Not convinced? Perhaps this side-by-side comparison of today's technology costs versus forty years earlier (at the dawn of the PC revolution) will convince you:

Decreasing Barriers to Entry for Individuals Manufacturing Custom Products: Today Versus 40 Years Ago

Costs for designing, developing, prototyping, and testing products today is significantly cheaper (in many cases by an order of magnitude) than forty years ago — and the capabilities of today's hardware and software is better beyond measure, not to mention innovations like online sales and investment crowd-sourcing (which did not exist in 1977).

The bottom line is this: thanks to these changes, artisans can become manufacturers; consumers can become makers.

5 Ways Makers Are Having an Impact on the Future of American Manufacturing

Given this list of economic advantages now favoring individual makers, the question is what will happen next.

What's going to be the bottom-line effect on American manufacturing, both nationally and in regional and local economies?

We've identified 5 aspects of the maker movement that will have a major impact on the future of American manufacturing.

1. Benefits of Achieving a Critical Mass in the Maker Community

Have you often heard the lament "No one makes anything in America anymore" ?

Read more ... formaspace.com/articles/tech-lab/maker-movement-influence...

Formaspace advances the spirit of discovery and creation through the design and manufacture of custom business furniture. Our furniture marries form to function with flexible solutions for clients in the laboratory, industrial, and office environments.

Formaspace serves over 80% of the Fortune 500, as well as universities, governments, small businesses, and individuals.

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Austin, TX 78753


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