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makers

Author: Chris Anderson

Rating: 7/10

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I'm a bit of a maker myself. The DIY and Maker movement has been getting some momentum of late with sites like instructables.com and hakaday.com and magazines like "Make" gaining some popularity.

This is all well and good as a hobby goes (as in my case), but could this also be the shape of things to come in the future of manufacturing? This is the intriguing question Chris Anderson (former Wired Magazine Editor) explores in this book. The advent of affordable 3D printers and other digital "manufacturing" tools such as CNCs and laser cutters holds some promise for the independent "maker" building a prototype (or small production batch) for his/her design. The author seems quite optimistic that this is the making of a new industrial revolution of sorts, one where production is democratized and infinitely customizable. He jumps to conclude that this could be the rebirth of manufacturing in the West, although in a very different shape from its original embodiment.

It's an interesting proposition and I don't doubt many advancements await in the fields of 3D printing and the like. The book is well researched and has some very interesting success stories along these lines. I'm just wondering if the author's claims that these technologies will revolutionize and "democratize' manufacturing are somewhat exaggerated. In fields like semiconductor manufacturing (where I have some experience) the opposite seems to be happening, with the cost of manufacturing a chip in the latest/greatest process becoming further and further out of reach of the small enterprise. That said, I enjoyed the reading and  the author's enthusiastic tone can be "contagious" (in a positive sense) and inspiring. I sure hope he is right. Recommended.

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