Social manufacturing — The Economist feature on the third Industrial Revolution

Welcome to the third Industrial Revolution

At what point has the status quo been shaken to its core… and we can declare ourselves in the midst of a Revolution? Reflecting on the changes that are taking place in various manufacturing industries, a recent article in The Economist puts forward some interesting points and suggests that we are, indeed, at the cusp of the Third Industrial Revolution.

If you’ve ever wondered about the impact that technologies such as Additive Manufacturing can have on a larger scale, then you are well advised to click through and read the full text. Before the really juicy content kicks off, there is a neat overview of current industrial practices, followed by an introduction to 3D printing and how it is already so much a part of our lives. Then things start to get interesting.

It’s not all about Additive Manufacturing – the factory of the future is also evolving to make use of smarter and more flexible production equipment. This means that as the number of people directly employed in making products declines, there will be a direct impact on the cost of labour (and therefore cost of production). What does this mean? Manufacturing techniques will make it cheaper and faster to produce locally, moving work back to the rich countries that enjoy so much gleeful consumption.

“Everything in the factories of the future will be run by smarter software. Digitisation in manufacturing will have a disruptive effect every bit as big as in other industries that have gone digital, such as office equipment, telecoms, photography, music, publishing and films. And the effects will not be confined to large manufacturers; indeed, they will need to watch out because much of what is coming will empower small and medium-sized firms and individual entrepreneurs. Launching novel products will become easier and cheaper. Communities offering 3D printing and other production services that are a bit like Facebook are already forming online—a new phenomenon which might be called social manufacturing.”


Advice for small businesses: marketing without marketing — the story

“The fine line between speaking and being heard is storytelling.” – Greg Power

Editor’s note: In this guest post, CEO and co-founder Cassandra Glessner of San Francisco based nonprift SF Commonality gives some marketing advice that we at Ponoko truly believe in: sell your story and the orders will follow.

Forget marketing. That’s right, I said it; forget branding, synergy, and any other buzzword that make people’s eyes glaze over and brains recoil in horror. The most important thing that any small business start-up should recognize instead is that what you are really selling when you sell anything is a good story.

If people buy your delicious tomatoes or your jewelry or your solar panels, your whats-its, or your widgets; they are buying it because they are sold on the story of it. They compare, in an instant firing of emotional synapses, the story of that product with other stories of the other products out there, and purchase yours because they found yours more personally compelling. Your photographs, your presentation, you yourself — everything you put out there about your product is part of that story.


NTH Synth: a DIY electronics + open-source hardware + crowd-funding + Ponoko fairytale

Meet the makers of the NTH Synth, following their successful Kickstarter campaign
This mouth-wateringly good looking machine is the NTH Synth, a product that was recently crowd-funded on Kickstarter. I interviewed the guys behind NTH Synth about DIY electronics, designing for Ponoko, and how to get your crowd-funding campaign to stand out from the crowd.

No need to tremble as SketchUp is sold to Trimble

Google sells SketchUp 3D modeling software to Trimble Navigation Ltd.

Trimble Navigation who is a leading provider of advanced positioning solutions has bought SketchUp from Google for an undisclosed sum. Google originally purchased SketchUp from @Last Software who developed the software from a start up in 2006. Google has spun it into one of the most popular 3D modeling applications – fostering a community of whom there are millions of users worldwide, through selling it as a freemium product. (more…)

Engineer vs Designer spotlight on personal manufacturing & Ponoko Ceo David ten Have

Math, manufacturing, and making things better.

Engineer vs Designer is a weekly podcast on digital design news, how-to design tips, and insights from various industry leaders.

Officially described as “dankest product design podcast on the block,” EvD is hosted by engineer Josh Mings of SolidSmack and industrial designer Adam O’Hern of cadjunkie.

This week’s episode is all about personal manufacturing and interviews Ponoko’s own co-founder and CEO David ten Have.

Dave talks about how personal manufacturing, a component of the larger maker movement, is really about self expression: “We’ve seen people express themselves through a bunch of different digital formats: music, video, and design. And now we’re at the stage where people are expressing themselves through products. And that’s what Ponoko is all about.”

Find out where personal manufacturing is headed and how the core of this movement is being powered by the incredible and deeply personal projects of citizen makers. It’s all in episode 37 of Engineer vs Designer.

PotteryPrint: the new 3D printing iPad app for kids

With the right technology, 3D printing is child’s play.

PotteryPrint is a truly exciting new iPad app that lets children use a virtual pottery wheel to create completely unique works of art ready for 3d printing.

The PotteryPrint team is currently seeking funding through Kickstarter to take their prototype to deployment.

They’ve got 20 days and $10,000 to go. You can support the project for as little as $1, and they’ve got some great pledge rewards including a home-baked dozen of your favorite cookies!

I talked to Brian, Cameron and Shlok from PotteryPrint to find out more about this app, their inspiration behind the project, and their thoughts on the intersection of technology and childhood education.

First up, can a kid really use a 3D modeling app?
Kids can do amazing things if given the right tools, but until now the majority of 3D design software has been created using traditional CAD-based software which is often complex and takes some training to use effectively.

The amazing thing about tablets is that the touchscreen interface just clicks with kids. I (Cameron) have a two year old and four year old — both can easily navigate the family iPad: pointing at something comes far more naturally to children than using a mouse. The combination of touchscreen and the malleability of clay makes PotteryPrint immediately accessible to kids. It calls on something natural, something primitive. Your hands, making something.


The next innovations in CG

Can you predict the future? Have a say in the CG Society forum discussion.

Around here at Ponoko, there is often much talk about how Digital Manufacturing is our Next Big Thing. As a part of this conversation, it can also be interesting to see what else is happening in related fields. Often the developments and advances in neighbouring industries can have quite an influence on what happens in our own back yard.

Enter CG Society. An online community where many of the world’s leading digital artists get together to knock each others’ socks off. Aside from portfolios, galleries and competitions, CGS also boasts an active forum in which I recently spotted a thread asking what the next innovations in computer generated artwork will be. Not sci-fi dreamings of the distant future… but what is just around the corner.

Responses include the usual suspects of greater computing power and faster speed. But things get interesting when people talk about specific technological advances like specular lighting and motion capture that were the stuff of pipe dreams only a few years ago, yet are everyday fare for digital artists today.

Also popping up in the discussion are the more Ponoko-familiar modeling, scanning and 3D printing technologies and how to best make use of them.

The colourful conversation continues, with amateurs and experts alike sharing their thoughts on just where these technologies will be in a few short years.


A primer on 3D printing

2012 may be the year of 3D printing: Lisa Harouni on TED

We may be preaching to the converted, but for those who still aren’t convinced (or maybe even aren’t aware) of just how exciting 3D printing is, this recent TED talk gives a neat overview.

The speaker is Lisa Harouni, CEO of Digital Forming. Having specialised for a number of years pioneering software development for 3D printing applications, she is well placed to convince even the most sceptical of viewers that we are indeed on the cusp of a manufacturing revolution.

via TED

Scientists, hobbyists, and entrepreneurs: five fresh interviews from 2011

Best of the Blog 2011 – Interviews, Thoughts & Opinions

Here’s five of my favourite interviews from 2011: we’re talking printed organs, education, DIY, hobby printing, and the future of connectivity. Kick back and tune in!

3D printing organs

PopTech talks to Dr. Gabor Forgac, founder of Organovo, a company that sells “the world’s only commercial bioprinter proven to create tissue.” (more…)

What happens when everyone and everything becomes connected?

These are the beginnings of some exciting times indeed

This short film explores how connectivity is changing our lives in ways never before imagined. Through conversations with a mix of people including David Rowan, chief editor of Wired UK; Caterina Fake, founder of Flickr; and Eric Wahlforss, the co-founder of Soundcloud, we learn that there may be greater changes in the next ten years than in all of the past half-century.

“…when the light bulb was the big thing and they dug up all of NY just to be able to put light bulbs in the houses, they didn’t really see the extension of light bulbs – that you could have other electrical appliances.

We are at the light bulb stage of the Internet.”

It’s well worth setting aside 20 minutes to watch, absorb and be inspired.

via Sugru