MakerFaire and The Future of (Personal) Manufacturing

By MarkBurhop

I’m sitting here at MakerFaire amazed at how people are doing more with less.  This is a get together of your closest 100,000 friends.  Crazy Uncle Al that never leaves his shop… this is the one time he goes out.  Aunt Alberta that never misses a craft show… yes, she is here too. That science teacher that caused you to become an engineer… here.   That 17 year old hacker neighbor who can’t say a sentence without the word ”arduino”… a rock start at this event.If there is ever a robot uprising, it will start at MakerFaire.

Jay Rogers of Local Motors

Being in the design and engineering world, what I’m paying the most attention to is this whole area of “personal manufacturing”.  Think of it like the “personal computing” revolution in the 80’s or the “Desktop publishing” revolution and resulting impact on publishing and news media that happened after that. 

Big Crowd at Ponoko Booth

Things that used to require big companies and serious resources are suddenly becoming affordableand doable by small companies and the masses.

ShopBot CNC machining

By most accounts, we are in the “dot matrix” phase of personal manufacturing.  The 3D Printers are indeed impressive.  Equally impressive but less discussed are the milling machines, CNC driven tools and other devices. Sure, they don’t do everything the big boys do… but you can also take a 0 off the price tag too.  Even if you don’t have the tools, other do and they are more than happy to make the part for you.  Just send you design over the web, say how many you want,  get a quote, and get it back in few days.

3D printed bench. Cement is the material.

Will this be a huge market or another .COM bubble?  I’m not qualified to say. For now, I’m enjoying the TechShops and the Ponokos and the ShopBots and the Local Motors and what they are doing. If you work in traditional design and manufacturing, you better keep your eyes open. 100,000 new thinkers that leave here today are going to have an impact on something.

TechShop had a great hands on booth

Leave a Reply

This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at