Stephen Murphy has compiled an animated version of a recent 3D printing survey by the Peer to Peer Foundation showing the rise of do-it-yourself manufacturing. It captures in graphic form a growing trend in increasingly sophisticated and increasingly affordable tools that are allowing entrepreneurs and tinkerers to experiment with designs for physical objects as never before.
Stephen pointed out to me in a phone call that 3D printing is just one element in the rise of DIY manufacturing.
“There’s so much more than 3D printers. I think 3D printers is the sexy, awesome, like holy crap, I can print out anything I want—I mean now they have meat printers. Peter Thiel just funded a meat printer start up. Which is kind of kind of gross, but kind of cool in the fact that hey, maybe one day we can actually print out our meat. That’s got world changing application. But in advanced manufacturing there’s also laser cutters. Such a simple idea has been absolutely revolutionary in its application and what it’s enabled people to do.”
These and other tools are coming together in places like TechShop, which works on a gym-style membership model that allows just about anyone to build their own designs for a modest fee.
Stephen, an aerospace engineer by training, agrees with my assesment that the DIY manufacturing world very much resembles the personal computer world of the late 1970s, when companies like Apple and Microsoft formed out of their principals garages and bedrooms, with potentially equally profound implications just around the corner. But as a decades-long vegetarian who stopped eating meat because of its ick factor, I don’t see myself printing out my own bacon in any forseeable future. Blech.