The New Industrial Revolution

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Author: Chris Anderson

Chris Anderson is quite an inspiring guy for anyone with an ambition to find a market for things that interest them and to do something with it.  That was the impression I had from his last book, The Long Tail, which you must read if you haven’t already.  This new book, Makers is a brilliant addition that uncovers an enormous amount of knowledge and presents it a way that covers how that knowledge is being put to good use throughout the world, but it also inspires you to learn from it yourself and to join the movement and become a maker yourself.  A maker is essentially a person who is involved in what he calls the new wave of capabilities for desktop application, content and now, real products that is finally possible on an individual scale to compete in the market place.  Makers are those people who are building their own products, producing there own manufacturing capabilities on a small scale and being successful at it.

What’s interesting about this book is how so many examples of what Anderson talks about are not only reasonable, but personal since he is a huge part of this maker revolution and so his stories and experience is extremely authentic in the realities of what is possible and what recommendations he has to make from lessons learned.  The book covers his theory that the manufacturing arena is going to change and shift from a huge capital limiting arena to one of creativity and equal access.  This is just starting to be done by rapid prototyping, 3D printers and personal production devices that enable anyone to get into the manufacturing business with a creative idea at a fraction of the cost of traditional manufacturing.

Anderson keeps a very optimistic outlook on future manufacturing and what the wonders of local technology allow anyone to do despite how many downsides and negative consequences of this revolution so many others point out.  Either way, in my mind, you can join it, enjoy the creative component and reap some benefits or you can watch others do it despite you, as I too believe that the maker movement will become ever more popular in niche markets where mass production with huge economies of scale will start to lose their market share.  I mean, who doesn’t want their own custom etched, physical version of a 3D object they dreamed up.  OK, that was my 3D artist in me talking, but seriously, there is so much room for replicating products, fixing parts, tweaking or customizing things the market for this will only continue to expand.

His previous book, the Long Tail is used as reference several times, this time, however, to look at how the smaller market, unique products have a tremendous value now since they were simply never affordable to make before.  The methods of customization, automation and robotics in scaling production manufacturing systems is covered deeply and its very interesting to hear and learn how easy some of the automation for production has become and how many companies have taken advantage of that to provide fantastic user choices and customization.

So, if you are interested in 3D printing, do any kind of product prototyping, would be curious about the capabilities of building your own products, or simply want to learn what Anderson’s expectations are for the future of manufacturing, then I think you will enjoy the read and gain some knowledge and insight you can reflect on for your own maker mindset for custom products.

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