DIY Maker Movement
interesting development in the additive manufacturing (AM) industry is
the support it provides to the maker movement, a collection of
activities in the large and growing do-it-yourself (DIY) community. In
the digital age of 3D modeling and 3D printing, DIY has taken on a new
meaning. Never before have “makers” and DIYers received so much
attention. A catalyst for the maker movement has been the open-source
systems and kits that range in price from about $750 to $4,000. These
machines do not produce parts at industry standard levels of quality,
but they provide access to an entirely new set of customers.
open-source RepRap project developed quickly, and became surprisingly
popular. It was the genesis of Bits From Bytes (UK) in 2008 and
MakerBot in 2009. These 3D printers are variations of RepRap. The UP!
machine from Delta Micro Factory Corp. (Beijing, China) was likely
inspired by the RepRap work as well. Fab@Home is another open-source
development, but it employs a syringe instead of a filament on a spool.
Together, more than 10,000 assembled machines and kits are estimated to
have been placed by these five developments. This is unprecedented, and
to some, nothing short of astounding.
Other efforts have
contributed to the growth of the DIY maker movement. Shapeways, a
company launched by the Dutch electronics giant Philips and now
headquartered in New York, offers an online marketplace for products
made by additive manufacturing. The i.materialise division of
Materialise (Leuven, Belgium) is attempting to bring AM and 3D printing
within everyone’s reach by supplying the tools and manufacturing for
people with ideas. A third example is Ponoko (Wellington, New Zealand),
a company that offers a “personal factory” for anyone wanting to create
an object or product from an idea.
Note: The previous information was taken from Wohlers Report 2011,
a 270-page global study focusing on the advances in additive
manufacturing and 3D printing worldwide. A detailed overview of the
report, as well as additional information on the market and industry,
are available at http://wohlersassociates.com.
Wohlers Talk: Carl Bass and IDEAS
was presented with the opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with
Carl Bass, CEO of Autodesk. I had never met him, so I jumped at the
chance. I found that he is not the typical chief executive of a $2
billion company. He was down to earth, very focused on our
conversation, and did not seem rushed, even though an event with
special international guests was about to begin.
executives, Carl gets his hands dirty, literally. He likes to create
and build stuff, such as baseball bats for a Little League team that he
has coached. He also uses design software and produces parts with 3D
printing. His company owns and operates several 3D printers and he and
his employees are excited about how the technology could develop in the
I was very lucky to receive an invitation to attend a
special Carl Bass event at the beautiful Autodesk Gallery facility in
downtown San Francisco. Initially, I had mixed feelings about it, only
because it partially conflicted with the successful RAPID 2011
Conference & Exposition held in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It turned
out that I made the right decision to accept the invitation. Before
going to Autodesk, I attended the Maker Faire in San Mateo, along with
about 95,000 others. This, in itself, was an intriguing and worthwhile
experience. I also caught an interesting presentation by Carl Bass at
the Maker Faire.
The Autodesk program was a part of its
relatively new IDEAS: The Innovation + Design Series—a “think tank”
format made up of hand-picked individuals from around the world. The
event was titled Reimaging Manufacturing: The Technologies Driving the
New Industrial Revolution. It focused largely on the making of objects
and products with 3D printing and how this technology might change the
face of manufacturing in the future. Among the relatively small group
in attendance were Chris Anderson of Wired magazine, Neil Gershenfield of MIT, Mitch Free of MFG.com, and Ping Fu of Geomagic.
discussions were stimulating and the thinking associated with 3D
printing and additive manufacturing was much more advanced than I had
anticipated. Many of these people are not “contaminated” by the
additive manufacturing problems and limitations of the past. Those in
attendance, including several Autodesk executives and Carl Bass
himself, have strong and interesting views of where these tools might
go in the future and how they could shape entirely new markets,
opportunities, and business models. I felt very lucky to have been a
part of it, but sincerely wish I could have stayed for the entire event.
Wohlers Talk is a blog that offers views, perspective, and commentary
on rapid product development and a wide range of other topics. Nearly
230 commentaries have been published. To view them, visit http://wohlersassociates.com/blog.
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