In 2012, ThomasNet in its piece “Is This the Era of DIY Manufacturing?” predicted that the future of manufacturing would entail “an Industrial Revolution in reverse.”
In this scenario, rapid fabrication (or molecular manufacturing) will turn every home into a personal, flexible factory. Companies and users will sell or share designs that can be manufactured at the point of use: instead of container ships carrying processed goods, the Internet will circulate blueprints and CAD files.
And while industrial mega-scale manufacturing will have still have its place in the decades to come (see the ramping up of Sparks, Nevada’s Tesla Giga-Factory), the core of manufacturing will likely be more localized, more customized and more specialized to the individual.
The desktop is quickly becoming the seat of manufacturing growth. In 2015, according to Forbes,
More than 278,000 desktop 3D printers (under $5,000) were sold worldwide, according to Wohlers Associates, publishers of the annual Wohlers Report.
And while the vast majority of 3D printing is confined to polymers and thermoplastics, there is progress towards DIY constructing with and manipulating heavier duty, classic construction materials like steel and ceramics.
Take Wazer, for instance. Wazer is a desktop water-jet that can cut metal, ceramic, stone and composites scaled for individual crafters and small businesses wanting to fabricate their own components. A Kickstarter to fund the project reached $1.3 million last year with a per unit cost of under $5,000.
Wazer, IMET, and companies like them are unleashing the creative potential of artisans, crafters, makers and DIY-ers to localize and simplify the construction of art, electronics and objects in the Internet of Things.
According to industrial desginer, Noel Joyce, interviewed in the Wazer promo,
The future of manufacturing is in custom, local fabrication.