You may have heard that hackspaces and make culture are reviving old traditions, or that academia is busily exploring what it means to turn bits into its. But is something else more Main Street happening?
Are the first signs of a micro-manufacturing economy emerging? Changism:
The bigger question is, are we seeing the early signs of convergence of technology and maker culture coalescing with exhaustion waiting for the old-style manufacturing economy to come back (it won't, by the way) to make something bigger, and more important—a shift to a new kind of making economy? Many small signals are emerging that point to personal fabrication as moving closer to an inflection point—in price, accessibility, demand, even desire—that nudges it out of the laboratory and into the larger flowing stream of innovations that catch the eye of the public, of funding sources and, most important, the thousands of bright minds and hands that love to mass-evolve technologies such as this for the sake of it (see also Web 2.0). We aren't there yet, but maybe, like land seen from a crow's nest of an explorer's ship, we can see it from here, making us row faster toward new lands.
If so, the Thing-O-Matic 3-D printer might be one of the inventions that thing-a-matizes the next economy. Watch the video above to see why one young boy loves his 3-D printer.