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The New Industrial Revolution


15 min read
10 take-aways
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What's inside?

The web will do for manufacturing what it’s done for information: Open it to everyone.

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For today’s entrepreneurs, mass production proves increasingly to be a do-it-yourself enterprise. In the past, someone who had a breakthrough idea for a product had to raise capital to build a factory or sell the idea to an established manufacturer. According to Chris Anderson, now CEO of 3D Robotics, these entry barriers are coming down fast. Today’s “Maker Movement” inventors can create instant prototypes by using desktop 3D printers or by transmitting their digital design files to fabrication services. In this nontechnical primer on the Maker Movement, Anderson describes new technologies like computer-aided design software and laser cutters. He describes the movement’s open sharing culture, in which Makers release their designs on the web to allow other users from the online community to give feedback. He believes the emergence of thousands of microindustrialists could revive the slowing manufacturing sector in developed countries. Anderson’s evangelistic tone can grow tiresome, but for the most part, the former editor in chief of Wired is an entertaining writer with a knack for the clarifying anecdote. getAbstract recommends his step-by-step guide to the coming manufacturing status quo to inventors, investors, entrepreneurs and that kid in the basement with a great idea.


The “Maker Movement”

Cottage industries are making a comeback in the 21st century. The barriers to entering the manufacturing business have been high for more than 100 years. Making things was the province of huge, “capital-intensive” factories, so the manufacturing of products remained out of the reach of individual artisans or inventors. But the digital revolution is toppling many barriers to manufacturing entrepreneurship. With today’s technology and social media, members of the emerging Maker Movement can control the design, manufacturing and sales of their products.

The Analog Days

In the 20th century, entrepreneurs faced a difficult path when they tried to bring a product to market. Inventors in the US had to go through the complicated, costly process of securing a patent, making their product and then get it into stores. They could raise the funds from investors to build a factory, or license their product to an established firm that would make and market it. Either way, the creator lost some control over the direction of the business.

Things to Come

The digital revolution makes the entrepreneurial path smoother. Beginning with the...

About the Author

Chris Anderson is the CEO of 3D Robotics, an open-source hardware company. He was formerly the editor in chief of Wired magazine.

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