Scenario 2030: Open Designs and Distributed Manufacturing

Excerpted from John Robb:

“Here’s what the simplistic model for the what most manufacturing will look like in twenty years is:

1) Design everywhere. Branded design. Amateur design. Design networks. Crowdsource design.

2) Platforms to standardize the design/quality and match demand with supply. This is where Cloudfab is.

3) Manufacture everywhere/anywhere it is convenient/inexpensive (download the specs and get to work). Lots of small manufacturers. Microshops and amateur producers around the world.

First thing to note is that China doesn’t factor into the above. For everything but the dirtiest products/processes (and there are plenty of workarounds for many of those), the actual production will be done locally.

Second thing to note is that this is that the organizations that will emerge in this space will either be HUGE or very small. Not much in between. Optimally, the platform that emerges will be open source (love to see it tied to bitcoin) rather than a wasteful corporate venture like Google/Facebook.

Is this system resilient?

Very much so. Except for raw material transport (minimal with plenty of substitutes available for most processes), most of the work being done will be done locally. Dependence on the global production and transportation system is minimal.

The only question is whether your community is participating in this or not. Are people in your community already designing products/items? Are they prototyping them locally in 3D? If not, jump-start the process. Set up a hackerspace locally with the equipment (and personnel if there isn’t a volunteer able to shoulder the burden) necessary to attract/spur local talent.”

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