The maker movement is made up of some 135 million adults in the U.S., however, it’s more than just a U.S. movement.

From 3D printers to laser cutters—makers employ various tools to create their goods. Many gather at makerspaces where they share these resources. Makerspaces are havens for techies, artists, and entrepreneurs.

What is the “Maker Movement?”

The maker culture is a contemporary culture or subculture representing a technology-based extension of DIY culture. Typical interests enjoyed by the maker culture include engineering-oriented pursuits such as electronics, robotics, 3-D printing, and the use of CNC tools, as well as more traditional activities such as metalworking, woodworking, and traditional arts and crafts. The subculture stresses a cut-and-paste approach to standardized hobbyist technologies, and encourages cookbook re-use of designs published on websites and maker-oriented publications. There is a strong focus on using and learning practical skills and applying them to reference designs.

maker movement wiredSince the birth of the personal computer and the Web, people have used relatively simple and accessible new technologies to create, connect and collaborate in ways that were previously unimaginable. For one thing, simple blogging tools and social media platforms have fundamentally democratized mass media, ending the monopoly once enjoyed by large publishers and broadcasters.

Now, easy-to-use digital fabrication tools and online assembly services are set to drive a similar revolution in physical manufacturing, radically lowering barriers to entry by making the tools of factory production available to everyone. Indeed, manufacturing may soon become just another cloud computing service (like Dropbox or Google Docs) available at the click of a mouse, with no penalty for short production runs. With such services, users pay for each item they make, while computer-controlled equipment makes the per item cost of producing one of something the same as the per item cost of producing 10,000. And while, at high volumes, these services are not as cheap as traditional mass production techniques, they are set to become better and cheaper over time.

These advances, along with the rise of social financing sites like Kickstarter, which free would-be entrepreneurs from dependency on traditional sources of capital, and the growth of online marketplaces like Etsy, which easily connect sellers and buyers around the world, are enabling a whole new class of small-scale creators to make and market industrial-grade products, a phenomenon that has been dubbed ‘the Maker movement.’

Is everyone a now manufacturer? Is an explosion of desktop manufacturing start-ups just over the horizon?

Read: A Profile With The Superstar Of The Maker Movement: Limor Fried

Read: Sylvia Todd emerges as tween face of the Maker Movement

INFOGRAPHIC: A Movement in the Making

We found this great infographic from CustomMade and they have asked us to feature it here on our website.

maker movement infographic


Editor’s Note: Below my conclusion on my thoughts on the Democratization of Manufacturing, you will have the pleasure of reading the thoughts of 30 year Manufacturing veteran, David DeWitt, who has now started social network,

Concluding Thoughts on The Democratization of Manufacturing, The Idea Driving the Maker Movement in Manufacturing

A few weeks ago I wrote a piece around a growing trend, the Democratization of Manufacturing and the Role of Its Citizens. I expanded on this thought, where many players are involved in manufacturing efficiency and output, as opposed to just one single source supply chain or just a few large manufacturing companies. Instead, the idea of the democratization of manufacturing  is all about making manufacturing accessible to all and from many sources. In a consumer driven economy, where no longer does the producer have the power (Read “The New Rules of Retail” to see those changes over time from producer driven economies to consumer driven economies), this is a natural evolution.

Essentially, the Democratization of Manufacturing is about choice. In the end, my thoughts conclude on the democratization of manufacturing by simply saying what we are seeing is that when all are able to contribute to an industry, whether it be niche, or perhaps off beat, the end result is a great thing because it will mean more innovation (and innovation in manufacturing is exactly what we need to sustain). We have seen this same scenario play out in the technology world, where small start ups have already disrupted tech giants such as Poloraid and Kodak (think Instagram) and IBM (think Dell or even Google).

As with all of our posts, we post them to social media channels, such as relevant LinkedIn groups. I posted the Democratization of Manufacturing blog post into the IndustyWeek group, and was delighted and welcomed by a comment from David DeWitt. That comment is below for you to read (it may make sense to read the post he commented on first), as well as an excellent white paper titled, “A Primer on the Maker Movement”.

The Maker Movement Comment in Response to the Democratization of Manufacturing

maker movement manufacturingAdam, you are RIGHT ON with this article. Just look at what Elon Musk did this week with Tesla’s patents. Millennial’s are much more into working collaboratively and openly. Much of this has to do with how they have been brought up in a fully connected social media world. The projects they are interested in most relate to sustainability, community and improving the lives of others. Things like localizing farming, food production and manufacturing rate higher than making a lot of money. However, this is NOT an anti free markets movement even though it may sound that way. Freedom and openness are the foundation of this new generations ideals.

For me the key element of this democratization is the Maker Movement. Maker Clubs, Maker Spaces and Maker Faires are popping up all over the country. I believe that industry and industry organizations should embrace and support this movement at every juncture as fast as possible. Used and obsolete equipment can be resurrected by Makers. Industrial employees of every discipline running workshops at MakerSpaces can provide many of the beneficial aspects of apprenticeships which will go a long way to solving our rapidly growing skills shortage. This week the White House is going to host it first every MakerFaire and the President will be visiting a MakerSpace in PA. Finally the Maker Movement will have a profound impact on education. All Maker activities are STEM, STEAM and Common Core compliant and build on the concept of Project Based Learning.

White House Touts “Maker Movement” with Maker Programs

Another indicator of the maker movement is the White House’s announcement that President Obama will host a Maker Faire.  President Obama will meet with students, entrepreneurs and everyday citizens who are using new tools and techniques to launch businesses, learn vital skills in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and lead a grassroots
renaissance in American manufacturing. The Maker Movement is truly something to keep an eye out for. You can view the White House’s press release in full by clicking here.

Additionally, if you want to check out an industry leader in the Maker Movement, look no further than Maker’s Row out of New York but now supporting the Maker Movement in all 50 states.

Download the “A Primer on the Maker Movement” White Paper

You can download the “A Primer on the Maker Movement” by visiting here. 

maker movement manufacturing storiesYou should also make sure you check out and support all of what is doing, and join us on Social Media.

Our website and social media is dedicated to promoting manufacturing and STEM education. We have a number of Pinterest Boards relating directly to the Maker Movement filled with hundreds of resources, literature and ideas. 

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What are your thoughts on the Maker Movement? Let us know in the comments section below!

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