Trendwatching, a large trend research network, has recently published its annual briefing on the main trends for 2008. Among them is my favorite new topic, user manufacturing (other terms for the same idea are desktop manufacturing, manufacturing as a service, fabbing, ...). Named "MIY – Make it Myself" the Trendwatching crew is naming user manufacturing as the next big thing in user-created content.
"[user generated content]" is a mainstream trend now, one that keeps giving, with millions of consumers uploading their creative endeavors online, and tens of millions of others enjoying the fruits of their creativity. User-generated content, at least in the online world, has grown from a teenage hobby to an almost equal contender to established entities in news, media, entertainment and craft."These consumers expect to be able to create anything they want as long as it is digital, and to customize and personalize many physical goods with traditional mass customization offerings. The next step in this evolution will be their desire to transfer digitally designed products into real physical goods as well.
Trendwatching is expecting that "MIY | MAKE IT YOURSELF (and then SIY | SELL IT YOURSELF) becomes increasingly sophisticated in the next 12 months".
As references, they refer to old friends which have been covered in this blog before:
# Fab Lab Bcn (Barcelona) is part of the worldwide network of Fab Labs, an initiative of MIT Center for Bits and Atoms, and provides a laser-cutter, water jet, 3D printer, mini-mill and other machines for participants to use. One of Fab Lab's initiators is Neil Gershenfeld, professor at MIT and author of FAB: The Coming Revolution on Your Desktop.
# The Desktop Factory 3D printer, with a list price of USD 4,995, uses an inexpensive halogen light source and drum printing technology to build robust parts from composite plastic powder, layer by layer. Desktop Factory envisages that within three years, Desktop Factory's 3D printers will be affordable for home use.
# They also mention the Swedish design group FRONT and their Sketch Furniture project. This trio materializes freehand sketches of furniture into real options. Very nice, very expensive with a chair starting at USD 10,500 per piece.
The last section of their trend report is very important to read, something that I always mention in my presentations on the limitations of user manufacturing:
"Now, we're not saying every consumer is going to design and manufacture his or her own furniture or appliances. Rather, MIY is yet another piece of the participation puzzle: enabling those consumers who feel like it to call the shots, bypassing traditional players. In future briefings we’ll address the implications of what this choice – being able to consume ready-made or create their own versions of anything and everything – will mean for the behavior and expectations of younger generations."
- The orginal Trendwatching report
- My original report about user manufacturing and my definition of this idea
- My earlier report about the low cost 3D printers
- If you can read German, Jochen Krisch had many excellent postings on user manufacturing in the last months, a very good staring point is his recent listing of all 3D printing services on the web.
- A very good starting point also is press reports of Z-Printer, a manufacturer of 3D printers used to make custom objects.