Distributed Manufacturing for Consumers
In a recent post on the Boing Boing Gadgets blog Joel Johnson discusses the need for Ponoko (or someone similar) to have localized manufacturing for larger pieces such as those need to produce a desk or other large piece of furniture. He sees it as an opportunity for Home Depot in the US or Bunnings in Australia (you pick your hardware megamart in your local city) to pick up the gap in the market, have a CNC (computer numerical controlled cutter) on site to cut pieces to your file, and assemble yourself.
You could theoretically hire a recently unemployed carpenter to do it for you, or try your luck with a local CNC company (check you yellow pages).
The issue with many Industrial CNC businesses is they are run by engineer types (no offense) who are not ready to hold your hand through what they would se as a low paying gig. The cost to read an prepare a file is often around $75 (in Australia) and you would have to purchase an entire sheet of material and transport it to the cutters and back….
Starts to sound like a lot of work.
So as Joel mentioned we are back to Ponoko type scenario to save the day with the added benefit of the support of peers and Ponoko staff, the ability to submit your design at 3am when you are procrastinating instead of working on an essay/thesis/taxes, and the flat packed product is delivered direct to your door/dorm.
I am sure the more people use Ponoko the more potential there is for distributed manufacture in your local area for an increasingly sustainable production chain.
cheers Boing Boing