Chris Anderson, formally editor-in-chief at WIRED was invited to speak at Authors@Google for his new book Makers: The New Industrial Revolution. According to Chris we will all learn to design our own products using universal software, and then either construct them with 3D printers that inject plastic mouldings or email our designs to a fabrication unit that will make them for us. “We are all designers now,” he writes. “It’s time to get good at it.”
In Makers, Wired editor and bestselling author Chris Anderson reveals that a new industrial revolution is under way. Today’s entrepreneurs, using open-source design and 3-D printing, are employing micro-manufacturing techniques to create a tsunami of products in small batches, often customized for specific customers at higher margins.
Every country, to remain economically strong, must make physical products if it doesn’t want to become a nation of burger flippers and checkout clerks. Yet in America and Europe, it has become harder and harder to sustain manufacturing as entire industries, from clothing to electronics, have shifted their factories to Asia and other low-cost regions. In the United States, manufacturing employment as a percentage of total working population is at a century-long low.
The solution, Anderson says, is in a desktop manufacturing revolution that will change the world as much as the personal computer did. The tools of factory production, from digital fabrication to online factory services, are now available to everyone; garage start-ups can make products in batches as small as a single unit or as large as tens of thousands. Anyone with an idea can set assembly lines into motion with little more than a keystroke.
Moreover, thanks to crowdfunding and social financing at companies like Kickstarter and Quirky, entrepreneurs are no longer dependent on venture capitalists or investment banks to finance their ideas. And with the global reach of the Internet, entrepreneurs are able to sell their products to consumers at home and around the world instantly, while start-ups like Etsy create new platforms and markets to bring buyers and sellers together.
Just as the Web ended the monopoly of mass media, so it is now ending the monopoly of mass manufacturing. Over the next ten years, Anderson explains, countless micro-manufacturers, based on open-source design and DIY manufacturing, will help drive the next big movement in the global economy as the power of bytes—the Long Tail—is transformed into the power to make things again, the Long Tail of things.