Will the Future of Production Be Local

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* Article (draf): Exploring the Maker-Industrial Revolution: Will the future of production be local? Bu Anna Waldman Brown. BRIE, October 20, 2016

URL = http://www.brie.berkeley.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/BRIE-Working-Paper-2016-7.pdf


From the introduction:

"Many believe that modern technologies such as 3D printers, sensors, and networking capabilities provide an unprecedented opportunity to support a renewal of localized production— especially when combined with “Maker Movement” trends toward customization, user engagement, local and small-batch production, and reparability.

Others are unconvinced, and instead forecast increased efficiency in high volume production and global supply chains. Let us state the core questions: will either the Maker Movement or these dramatic new technologies fundamentally influence the basic structures of market competition? Or, will this all be merely an interesting but marginal blip along the road as the technologies themselves are absorbed into automated high volume production? What are the clues? What do decision-makers across industry and policy need to know in order to properly evaluate this potential? With this paper, we look beyond the revolutionary rhetoric of the Maker Movement in an attempt to consider its effects on a more practical level. We define the Maker Movement (also known as the Do-It-Yourself or Fab Movement) as a crusade for more accessible design and creation— incorporating a mix of new technologies, philosophies, and business models. This Movement is especially tied to the concepts of digital fabrication, public access to tools through community workshops (Fab Labs, hackerspaces, makerspaces, repair cafés, TechShops, etc.), the Internet of Everything/interconnected devices, and Jeremy Rifkin’s concept of the “zero marginal cost society.” We employ a vague definition here because the concept itself is nebulous and ill-defined; depending upon whom one asks, this Movement is a “bourgeois passtime,” the “new industrial revolution,” the future of interdisciplinary education, the impetus for a wealth of new hardware startups, and/or yet another overhyped and impossible vision of techno-utopia.

This essay will focus upon whether or not the Maker Movement might substantially disrupt traditional manufacturing, or alternatively at least create an enduring niche."

More Information

  • Maxigas and Peter Troxler, “Digitally-Operated Atoms vs. Bits of Rhetoric: A Mash-Up,” Journal of Peer

Production, no. 5 (October 2014), http://peerproduction.net/issues/issue-5-shared-machine-shops .