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« 2007 Mass Customization Event Preview (I): MCPC 2007 Web Site Launched | Main | Buzzword Collection: Wikinomics Is the New Crowdsourcing »

December 05, 2006

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Comments

csven

"Here, the 3D skill taught in virtual worlds are a first step, but no real help ... as I had to learn from talking to RM manufacturers and researchers, that there are still a lot of challenges in coming up with clever designs that are RM ready."

Agree. But I'm not actually thinking the 3D in virtual worlds will be the starting point for most people trying to get into RM. I could do it, but the average person isn't likely to.

What I'm thinking will happen is that we'll see traditional CAD and surfacing tools (or in some cases, polygonal modeling tools) used to create RM'd designs. However, the original data can then be repurposed for 3D inside virtual worlds for advertising purposes. I already take Pro/E files into virtual worlds via one of the triangle mesh exports (.stl, .obj, .wrl). The problem right now is that the best simulation for this secondary purpose uses a unique parametric modeling format. If it used a triangle mesh format, I'd be golden.

Frank Piller

Thanks for these extended comments on my post, dmi and csven.

dmi, as csvwn mentioned already, there will be new economics of manufacturing with rapid manufacturing technologies which will allow to overcome the problems of today's low volume manufacturing.

In addition, we never have to forget that the recent high-volume mass production system in reality is a small-batch-high-variety manufacturing system, that comes at a high cost of forecast complexity, inventory, discounts for unwanted products, etc. ...

If we move to an on-demand manufacturing system, there are new cost saving potentials that can counterbalance the additional cost of the very low manufacturing volumes. (This is typical "mass customization thinking").

The major point of this user manufacturing theme (or desktop manufacturing, as csven calls it quite well), is -- on the long run -- in my opinion not the manufacturing part, but the design part. csvwn characterized this quite correctly: There are plenty of new possibilities for more clever product design with RM, however, you need people being able to do so. Here, the 3D skill taught in virtual worlds are a first step, but no real help ... as I had to learn from talking to RM manufacturers and researchers, that there are still a lot of challenges in coming up with clever designs that are RM ready.

To design for this demands a totally different mindset then designing for injection molding etc ...

This is, where (a) new design tools and (b) user collaboration come into place. New design tools will enable users to come up with RM-ready design. But it will be especially users who share their designs (for money or for free, as we see it today in SL, etc.). Some expert users (lead users) will develop a suitable design, and share this with others -- using networked manufacturing capability (e.g., at Amazon or eBay) to produce this design and ship it.

csven

I expect that either Amazon or eBay will be the one's to really get "desktop manufacturing" under way (my preferred term atm). With eBay there's already most everything in place; including a Reputation system. With Amazon, there's the recent push to provide something like what eBay offers (along with the perception that they sell *new* goods whereas eBay is still thought of as the place for secondhand stuff). Both, however, appear to be leading the way.

Interesting to me is that both are major players in virtual worlds which perhaps signals a belief that the best way to sell tangible goods (of the non-printed, non-digital media container variety) is to do so inside a 3D space. Amazon has linked SL to its catalog so users can make purchases from inside SL; and of course the Omidyar's are investors in and users of SL. It's not at the point where it needs to be (the 3D is too primitive), but I would venture that they're learning from what's available to them now with the intent of applying those lessons to the more realistic vr's sure to follow. And the viral nature of 3D objects will make the 2D web look extraordinarily primitive imo. What can be done inside a 3D space is mindblowing.

To dmi:

"And whoever produces our niche-products will have dramatically increased setup-times with their assembly lines."

Not necessarily. Rapid-manufacturing potentially does away with much of what we have been doing.

The beauty of RM is that unlike what I do when I design a product, the average person doesn't need to know about parting lines or bypass shut-offs or draft. That's because the shapes that can be made are not limited by traditional mold solutions. And that also usually means fewer parts per product because when you can't mold a shape, you either change the shape or you break it down into more parts that *can* be. Beyond that, we'll see grown parts that contain multiple materials. For example, we'll get parts composed of both plastic and metal integrated into one form (the metal could replace wires). Consequently, assembly lines as we know them today will likely be very different from what we could see in the future.

"So in the end we have to have some bigger lot sizes than 10 or 100 or 1000 pieces, dependent on the product to keep direct costs down."

You're assuming that niche products will compete with mass products. I don't see that. It'll be a long time before RM can fabricate parts faster than injection molding or most any other process currently used. That alone would prevent desktop manufacturing from emerging.

Instead, I think of this more as an evolution of the urban vinyl toy market. Those are manufactured using traditional means (usually rotomolding) but *because* of their limited quantity fetch high prices. So based on what's already going on, I'd venture we'll see short production runs and high prices. And one doesn't have to look too far for a market. As the wealthy get ever wealthier, Christie's auction house is increasingly shocked at the winning bids. Unique sells. And RM products with shapes that have never even been seen before will definitely be unique.

kaye - custom pcs

If amazon does this it will be tough competition for everybody else.

dmi

sounds pretty interesting so far that "user-generated-anything"-thing. For the business administrator that i am there is one question that occurs to me: if in future we all design and produce our own product and sell it to, lets say 10 or 100 people who rated it "ok", we might have some problems with either the retail-price or the contribution margin.
And whoever produces our niche-products will have dramatically increased setup-times with their assembly lines.
So in the end we have to have some bigger lot sizes than 10 or 100 or 1000 pieces, dependent on the product to keep direct costs down.
And finally we are from where we started, again and have maybe replaced some design- or sales-department but not having the ability to produce goods in a variable way like we wanted.
Maybe I missed something here, so is anybody out there willing to discuss this one?

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