Electronic Design Blueprint Aggregators

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Hod Lipson and Melba Kurman:

"Aggregators are companies that host online catalogs of electronic design blueprints for available products, machine parts and other objects. Like amazon.com or eBay, aggregators offer storefronts for third party merchants such as designers. Some aggregators like shapeways.com also offer fabrication services, while others offer small-scale manufacturing services, while others, such as Ponoko, act as brokers between consumers, designers and makers.

Two of the pioneering companies are Shapeways and Ponoko." (http://web.mae.cornell.edu/lipson/FactoryAtHome.pdf)

– Location: New Zealand.

"On Ponoko’s web site, consumers, designers, makers and materials suppliers register for accounts and come together online. Consumers can design their own product using Ponoko’s starter kit design software and fabricate their chosen product themselves, on their own fabber. Or, consumers can download free and purchasable software design blueprints, and if they don’t have access to their own home manufacturing machine, can post a request via an online form to tap into Ponoko’s “making hubs” to have a nearby maker nearby do the fabrication. Ponoko’s materials suppliers sell paper, fabric, metal, rubber and wood alongside sophisticated hardware components such as accelerometers, sensors, GPS and wireless antennas."

– Location: The Netherlands and New York.

"Shapeways is the leading aggregator with a large online collection of sophisticated designs that range from toys to art to machine parts. Shapeways has a manufacturing space that contains several 3D printers that fabricate customer designs. Products are sold via a number of different storefronts that each feature a different designer. Consumers select a design from a designer who runs their own online storefront or consumers can make their own design using Shapeway’s proprietary design tools. Shapeways employees offer user support and design advice, if needed. Consumers and designers interact directly if the user has a special request. The more active designers on Shapeways earn several thousand euro a month from selling their designs."

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