5 09, 2011

#MCPC2011 Program Highlights – Mass Customization as a Driver for Sustainability

By | 2018-06-14T09:43:34+00:00 September 5th, 2011|Cases-Consumer, Customization Trends, Design, Events, General, MCPC2011, Personalization, Research Studies, Technologies & Enablers|

MCPC 2011In a series of postings, we present some of the program highligths of the MCPC 2011 conference. The following is just one of more than 50 sessions we will host on Nov 16-19 in San Francisco, CA.

The relationship of mass customization and sustainability has discussed since quite a while, but still there is very little knowledge about this field. A dedicated track at the MCPC2011 will provide a closer look on this topic.

Sessions 2.2, 3.2 and 4.2 (Nov 18): Environmental Sustainability and MC

Mass Customization and Sustainability – An Introduction

An introduction to the general topic of this session will be held by Frank Steiner (RWTH Aachen University).

Is Mass Customization Sustainable?

Mass Customizers are like other companies currently experiencing an increasing customer demand for environmentally sustainable products as well as an increasingly strict legislation regarding environmental sustainability. In this presentation Thomas Petersen,  Kaj Jörgensen, Kjeld Nielsen, Stig Taps (Aalborg University) will address the issue whether the concepts mass customization and sustainability can be integrated by asking the question: can mass customized products be sustainable?

Proposal of a  Reference Framework to Integrate Sustainability and Mass Customization in a Production Paradigm

Mass customization strategy is applied by firms in order to make them more customer-oriented and make each individual customer a source of opportunity and hence profit for the firm. Sustainability on the other hand brings not only eco-efficiency for the company, but also has a great impact on economic efficiency and social perspective of the firm. Donatella Corti, Marco Taisch, Golboo Pourabdollahian (Milan University), Andrea Bettoni, Paolo Pedrazzoli and Luca Canetta (University of Applied Sciences and Arts of South Switzerland) will show how integrating these two concepts together to develop a new strategy of sustainable mass customization can create a significant value for companies in today’s globally competitive environment.

Modeling Framework to Evaluate Sustainability Performance of Mass Customization Solutions

In this presentation Fazleena Badurdeen (University of Kentucky) and Ken Wijekoon will present a framework to optimize the configuration of customizable solutions (products or product-service systems) to ensure economic, environmental and societal sustainability requirements are satisfied. Activities across the total product life cycle are considered to develop a model to evaluate closed-loop flow assuming a modular product where customization can be achieved by selecting from alternatives.

Towards an Integrated Mass Customization and Sustainability Assessment Framework

The new challenge of sustainable development adds more requirements to be dealt with in order to keep their competitiveness and sustain their position in the market. For the mass customization enterprises, sustainability performance may depend on several mass customization enablers, thus these two concepts needs to be assessed together in order to foster both. Khaled Medini, Catherine da Cunha and Alain Bernard (Nantes University) will take a closer look at enterprise interactions with environment, society and economical environment and how they can be interpreted as a first step to establish an enterprise model in the mass customization and sustainability context.

Supporting Sustainability and Personalization with Product Architecture

Consumers as well as governments are applying constant pressure on companies to adopt a more sustainable strategy, consumers request greener products and governments applies rules for reuse and more eco-friendly manufacturing. There are several factors counting in favor or against the sustainability of MCPC products.

Modularization is a driver for MCPC and earlier research within product architecture has indicated that modularization could support sustainability. In their presentation Thomas Petersen,  Kaj Jörgensen, Kjeld Nielsen, Stig Taps (Aalborg University) will present their empiric work on the drivers for modularization with focus on sustainability and MCPC.

Smart Customization: The New Driver of Sustainability. A Case Study in Custom vs. Standard Men's Dress Shirts

In 2009 Ryan Chin and Daniel Smithwick (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) published "Environmental Impacts of Utilizing Mass Customization," a paper that focused on sustainability benefits of mass customized men's dress shirts by examining the manufacture, distribution, and use of custom vs. standard off-the-rack men’s dress shirts. In this presentation they will extend this research in breadth and depth by conducting a series of detailed experiments focusing on the total consumer experience of custom vs. standard men's dress shirts. 

Co-Creation and Mass Customization from a Triple Bottom Line Approach

Very often mass customized products are considered more sustainable than mass produced products. However, there is little evidence that this is the actual case, there are however components in those supply chains that do suggest that less waste is produced. Jonas Larsson, Joel Peterson and Klas Hjort (University of Boras) will map and analyse three supply chains with different offerings of mass customised or co-created products from a social, environmental and economic perspective i.e. the triple bottom line. It will not be possible to conclude whether these supply chains are sustainable or not but rather to compare the supply chains with each other from the triple bottom line perspective. The work is based on qualitative and quantitative data and case studies of three supply chains.

MCPC: The Enabler to Open the Next Age, It's Opportunity and Challenge, Report from Japan Post 3.11 Earthquake

Yasuyuki Cho (Wacoal) is an MCPC practitioner born and living in Japan. Under the deep impression of the Tsunami that hit Japan on March 11 he changed the subject of his presentation to reflect on MCPC and its chances and opportunities for a sustainable life and business.

Customization and Manufacturing Sustainability: General Considerations and Footwear Investigation

To adapt to global competitive pressures, European Industry must develop methods and enabling technologies towards a personalized, customer oriented and sustainable manufacturing. To this end, a key question to be addressed is whether Mass Customization can be regarded as one of the main driving forces to achieve effective Sustainability, or rather a burden.
Andrea Bettoni, Paolo Pedrazzoli, Luca Canetta, Marzio Sorlini, Claudio R. Boer (University of Applied Sciences and Arts of South Switzerland) and Donatella Corti (Milan University) will first portray the two concepts of mass customization and sustainability and will then propose a framework to establish a link and evaluate it, also with the support of concrete examples in footwear.


Listen to the full content of these talks at the MCPC 2011, Marriot SFO Airport, San Francisco, Nov 16-19, 2011:

– Conference Website and Registration (reducted rates until Sept 30)

– All info here in one compact MCPC flyer

Conference hotel and travel (rooms fill quickly, book now!)

– All posts about the conference in my blog

23 08, 2011

#MCPC2011 Program Highlights – Session on Design for Mass Customization and Personalization presents Roger Jiao and Dave Sloan

By | 2018-06-14T09:43:45+00:00 August 23rd, 2011|Co-Design Process, Customization Trends, Design, Events, MCPC2011, Personalization, Research Studies, Technologies & Enablers|

MCPC 2011In a series of postings, we present some of the program highligths of the MCPC 2011 conference. The following is just one of more than 50 sessions we will host on Nov 16-19 in San Francisco, CA.

One of the lestablished researchers in the mass customization domain is Roger Jiao from Georgia Tech University. He is chairing the "Design for Mass Customization" track of the conference, that looks into practices and methods to develop product architectures and modular product families The first session will provide a great overview of the field and developments leading to the state of the art. I personally are especially looking forward to the presentation by Dave Sloan from Treehouselogic (he has a great blog!!!) who will comment on the backgrounds why MC is taking off now.


Session 1.5 (Nov 18): Design for MC and Personalization

Design for Mass Customization And Personalization: A Review

 Product design has gone beyond the traditional objective of attaining functional requirements to meeting the ultimate goal of customer satisfaction. Design methods for mass customization can only satisfy customers’ functional needs by offering choices through configuration of existing components with pre-programmed configuration rules. Roger Jiao (Georgia Tech) provides a review of recent research relevant to the popular personalization concept with Special emphasis on user experience, customer participation and product differentiation.

How the Evolution of the Internet Has Spurred Mass Customization

In this talk Dave Sloan, CEO of Treehouse Logic, focus on how the Internet landscape and consumer demand for Internet tools have changed in the past 2-3 years. The Internet has become faster, more powerful, more adopted, more social, and more mobile. All these factors contribute to the adoption of online customization.

Understanding Socio Technical Modularity – Reinterpreting Modularity from Actor Network Theory

 Modularity has gained an increasing popularity as a central concept for exploring product-, process- , organization- and supply chain structure. The predominant understanding of modularity however faces difficulties in explaining the social dimension of modularity. In their presentation Christian Thuesen, Lars Hvam (Technical University of Denmark) and Anders Kudsk (NCC.dk) will address this gap, offering a reinterpretation of the modularity concept from a socio-technical perspective in general and Actor Network Theory in particular.

Listen to the full content of these talks at the MCPC 2011, Marriot SFO Airport, San Francisco, Nov 16-19, 2011:

– Conference Website and Registration (reducted rates until Sept 30)

– All info here in one compact MCPC flyer

Conference hotel and travel (rooms fill quickly, book now!)

– All posts about the conference in my blog

1 04, 2011

Winning Logo of MCPC 2011 Crowdsourcing Competition – My Experiences with CrowdSPRING

By | 2018-06-14T09:44:29+00:00 April 1st, 2011|Co-creation, Crowdsourcing, Design, Events, MC/OI on the Web, MCPC2011, Open/User Innovation|

MCPC2011_new_logo_small Here is the new MCPC 2011 conference logo … to get it, we did what we preach and started a logo crowdsourcing competition at CrowdSPRING, one of the leading places in the internet to run design competitions.

I hope you like it … the logo will be used for the conference design and the final invitation brochures etc … I like the way how it connects the different backgrounds of our conference.

It was interesting to actually run such a contest. Here are my personal experiences with CrowdSPRING:

  1. It is quite easy to launch a new project, even if you have never done this before and do not know anything about writing a briefing.
  2. It is more expensive than often said. In some blogs or reports, crowdsourced graphic design competitions are said to be very cheap. Well, compared to hiring a design company for a new logo, CrowdSPRING is very affordable. But the average award is much higher today as it used to be in the past. As a non-profit conference and taking everything from my research budget, I decided to go low and just awarded $375 (The average contest is $1000 or more), On top, you pay about $150 transaction fees to the host (and expect to pay much higher fees if you want to have your contest promoted).
  3. This is not much money, but for $500, you also will find many designers who will take such a job on a traditional contract base. But when you are new to the area and have not many great designers in your contact list, this is a great way to connect.
  4. When you run a contest, reserve some time. Don't do it when you have a very full agenda. Participants expect instant feedback, and indeed your submissions get better when you give feedback just after every submission. I totally underestimated this.
  5. You will not get better results when you keep the competition open longer than a week. Good entries only come in a few days before the closing deadline.
  6. Get a few friends or colleagues involved helping you with the final voting. In the end, however, as usual, my wife made the decision for me :-).
  7. The post-processing of the contest is very easy and well organized. Just a few clicks, and you have your files and the contract. This is where CrowdSPRING really provides value as a broker.

Raoul_camion1.200x200 The winner of our contest was an experienced graphic designer who actually lives quite close to my German home, Raoul Camion. Raoul is a Belgium graphic designer who has specialized in logos projects. Without knowing, we selected a highly professional user: Raoul has participated in about 1000 projects at CrowdSPRING, and has won 87 of them. Sounds little, but is a lot given the large number of entries that are submitted for each contest.

So, we hope that you like the new MCPC 2011 logo!

11 02, 2011

Open Source Hardware (OSHW) Definition v1.0 Released: What it is and how it will change innovation

By | 2018-06-14T09:44:44+00:00 Februar 11th, 2011|Design, Open/User Innovation, Technologies & Enablers, User Manufacturing|

Open hardware logo proposal by Mateo Zlatar Open Source Hardware finally has an official definition. Today, the "Open Source Hardware (OSHW) Statement of Principles and Definition v1.0" has been published.

Open Source Hardware (OSHW) is a term for tangible artifacts — machines, devices, or other physical things — whose design has been released to the public in such a way that anyone can make, modify, distribute, and use those things. The basic motivation of OSHW is to give people "the freedom to control their technology while sharing knowledge and encouraging commerce through the open exchange of designs." (Note the explicit relation to "commerce", as this is as much to act as an economic principle as it is one of knowledge management and enabling innovation).

Last year, I participated at the "Open Hardware Summit" in New York city, a large gathering of people interested in bringing the open source software idea to hardware products.The participants of the Summit were a very interesting and eclectic crowd, starting a really great debate on the opportunities, but also the challenges of OSHW (obviously, the opportunities won).

As a core result of the debate started at the summit, today finally the official version of the "Open Source Hardware (OSHW) Statement of Principles and Definition v1.0" has been published. This publication can be seen as profound and game-changing as the original "Open Source Definition," created by Bruce Perens and the Debian developers as the "Debian Free Software Guidelines" in 1997.

Exmples of OSHW In the first official open hardware definition, OSHW is defined as

"hardware whose design is made publicly available so that anyone can study, modify, distribute, make, and sell the design or hardware based on that design. The hardware's source, the design from which it is made, is available in the preferred format for making modifications to it.

Ideally, open source hardware uses readily-available components and materials, standard processes, open infrastructure, unrestricted content, and open-source design tools to maximize the ability of individuals to make and use hardware."

The definition then states 12 criteria that characterize OSHW, among them the following:

1. Documentation: hardware must be released with documentation including design files, and must allow modification and distribution of the design files.

3. Necessary Software: If the design requires software then the license may require that this software may not constrain the open design of the hardware.

4. Derived Works: The license shall allow modifications and derived works, and shall allow them to be distributed under the same terms as the license of the original work.

5. Free redistribution: The license shall not restrict any party from selling or giving away the project documentation, but also shall not demand a fee for this.

8. No Discrimination against Fields of Endeavor ("… For example, it must not restrict the hardware from being used in a business, or from being used in nuclear research.").

12. License Must Be Technology-Neutral.

I believe that the publishing of this definition could have an equally, of even wider, impact as the OSS movement. While not all hardware will be open, working on a license that allows hardware products to be designed, produced, and reproduced under these rules may start a new manufacturing movement that may change the way how products are designed and distributed (if only engineering students would have good and up-to-date mandatory classes in law and IP – as this is not the case it are the economists and management professors like me that care about the things while the average engineering student is being educated in a traditional way of IP and patents).

OSHW is exactly one of the interfaces between customization and open innovation that we want to discuss in larger detail during the MCPC 2011 conference in San Francisco in Nov 2011.


14 10, 2010

(Updated) Ten Reasons Why I Consider Quirky.com As Best in Crowdsourcing and Open Innovation

By | 2018-06-14T09:45:23+00:00 Oktober 14th, 2010|Cases-Consumer, Co-creation, Crowdsourcing, Design, Open/User Innovation|

Quirky_process Since I learned about the company about one year ago, Quirky.com has become my favorite example of open innovation and customer co-creation.  We had Quirky's founder, Ben Kaufman, at our MIT Smart customization Seminar earlier this year, and his presentation even made me a larger fan.

If you do not know Quirky yet, think of idea contests meeting microfinancing meeting open development. Users can suggest a new product idea (for a fee). The Quirky community then starts with some research and votes on the best ideas that should enter the next stage. Here, ideas are turned into concepts jointly by the community and Quirky's own developers. Next, again an evaluation. Passed? Then the concept is out for community financing. Only if a minimum number of customers commit with their credit card to purchase the product later, manufacturing is started, and the product will be launched.

For a more detailed description, go to their website (you have to register to see most functions) or read a great article by Rob Walker in his "Consumed" column in the NYT Magazine.

And here are my ten reasons why Quirky.com really is "best in class" in open innovation and customer co-creation.

10. Demonstrating that the crowd can co-create products which make it Time Magazine's "Innovation of the Year" (2009).

9. Proofing that a good co-creation idea can get serious VC money. With $7 million in financing, up to now, Quirky.com has become a role model and inspiration for many other start-ups.

8. Bringing us new fun products no one really needs but which all have an "I want this" appeal — once a week.

7. Mashing-up lead users, customer co-creation, open innovation, and crowdsourcing: Co-creation to facilitate input by users/potential customers on new product ideas (most Quirky projects start with an unfulfilled need by a (lead) user). Open innovation to turn the idea into a prototype with the help of external experts who participate in technical problem solving. Crowdsourcing to coordinate and facilitate the entire process (Quirky is a great example of applying the original idea of crowdsourcing according to Jeff Howe).

6. Demonstrating how fast innovation can be –– despite the involvement of so many participants and parties.

5. Lifting the Threadless model to another level –– and developing the idea further than "just" t-shirts!

4. Providing me with a great new example of the "collective customer commitment" method we described in our 2006 pape. At Quirky, new products are only produced if a minimum amount of customers show support (commitment to purchase) the product.

3. Providing a platform for products originating from deep user insights and offering anyone the platform of turning great ideas into real products — and profiting from it (see below). Also, if your idea does not make it to a final stage, you get a great feedback report with the consolidated community feedback and research on the idea.

2. Demonstrating a great model of "hybrid" value creation between openness and closeness. Most activities are performed by the community and are freely revealed on the platform, but Quirky provides (hierarchical) coordination and takes over the more complicated developing steps, like finalizing the design and the technical development of the product.

1. Being one of the first companies that really(!) takes external contributors serious. Ben Kaufmann told us at MIT that the core challenge when launching the company has been to develop an algorithm that provides a fair distribution of 30% of all revenues' to the community members who contributed to a particular project. In average, 1200-1500 contributors are paid per product! Such a large-scale contribution scheme still is very rare in for-profit industries — but should become a role model for the co-creation economy.

Update (Oct 24, 2010):

A few days ago, Quirky updated its website. Here are some of the new features that directly enhance the buisness model:

  • Shopping cart functionality, with clear breakdowns of which products are in development, which are in production, and which are shipping now.
  • New community dashboard, which makes it easier to connect with the more than 35,000 community members.
  • New evaluation format that allows users to browse, vote, rate, and comment on ideas quicker and easier.
  • More ways for users to track their activity on the site.
  • Change to pre-order commitments: There no longer is a default deduct to all "pre order commtments from your account, but you just leave their credit card info with them.
21 06, 2010

Mass Customized Art — Can Art be Co-Created?

By | 2018-06-14T09:46:08+00:00 Juni 21st, 2010|Co-creation, Customization Trends, Design, Fabbing, MC & Art, Technologies & Enablers|

Art logo A long time ago, I wrote about some artists that have applied the ideas of mass customization and personalization for their works. Now, a much larger initiative has started. Called A.R.T. (for "Art-ReThought"), Donald Rattner, an artist turned architect, has created a new online shop for customizable modular art. He also recently launched a sophisticated new blog on modular design and architecture.

"Is art still art if the artist’s hand never touched it?" This somehow is the key question Rattner's site asks, and while he definitely has answered it with "Yes", I am not so sure if his offerings really meet the definition of "art" for many people who may call this more "decoration".

But the lines are blurring. And in any case, Rattner perfectly illustrates how digital innovations in manufacturing are impacting art and design. Mass customization, co-creation, modular design, production on demand, digital design, robotics, and other computer-driven technologies are changing the way things are made (and as a result, the way art is thought about).

Rattner calls this mixture “The New Industrialism". "As with so many things in our lives, a lot of the historical attitudes toward the creative disciplines are falling away under the influence of modern technology. For instance, today people are demanding more involvement in the creative experience, whether it’s collaborating in the design of their own clothes or specifying a new computer for purchase. Eventually we’ll see that sensibility infiltrate the art world, which until now has reserved the right to creation to the artist alone." Rattner recently is quoted in a press release. There is a great illustration of the "new" and the "old" art in the catalogue for his customizable items (download).

In his online shop (with a small configurator), he is selling Wall Art, a hanging modular wall sculpture system that comes in square, reticular and rhombus modules and Shelf Art, a simple, expensive but wonderful personalization option for home libraries (I love those!). Nice, fredh idea — and a further sign of the broad appeal of mass customization.


11 05, 2010

The Customization500: Global benchmarking study of mass customization online offerings

By | 2018-06-14T09:46:30+00:00 Mai 11th, 2010|Co-Design Process, Customization Trends, Design, MIT SCG, Personalization, Research Studies, Technologies & Enablers|

Cus-500-red During the opening session of the upcoming MIT Smart Customization Seminar, my colleague Dominik Walcher and I also will present the first results of a very recent global benchmarking study: The Customization500 (Yes, I was inspired for this title by NESTA's Open100).

In the last weeks, we (actually: we and a large team of more than 20 great research associates) evaluated more than 500 mass customization offerings that can be purchased online (and in addition about 200 online configurators of companies where you can configure a product or service online, but then not order it online, e.g. automotive companies). This is, to our knowledge, the largest study evaluating the state of the art of mass customization on the internet. For each configuration site, we got more than 200 data points and evaluations.

This first stage of data gathering will be complemented by a company survey plus consumer surveys on selected offerings. As a result of this study, we hope for a better understanding of the state of mass customization & personalization in the practice, a large collection of "best" and "promising" practices, and also an overview of technologies used for online configuration.

I will definitely report more about the results of this study in the coming months (and in case you are a company that has been part of the benchmarking, just be patient: You will get a mail with your evaluation during the next weeks!). For first results, wait for the opening session of the SCS 2010!

20 02, 2010

Custom-made eyeware — Finally an offering beyond the lenses

By | 2018-06-14T09:46:57+00:00 Februar 20th, 2010|Cases-Consumer, Customization Trends, Design, Personalization|

Options to customize your glasses -- Graphic from FastCompany Magazine March 2010 Custom made glasses are one of the evergreens of mass customization — Paris Miki's custom offering was one of the key success stories in the fundamental articles by Joe Pine, and its service and recommendation system is unmatched until today.

But in its latest issue, US magazine FAST COMPANY has a nice little story about British eyeglass designer Tom Davies, who differentiates itself with custom made frames.

Prescription eyeglasses are always, in a sense, custom-made, but the focus in this $16 billion U.S. industry has been the lenses, not the frame. Most frames are made in one size, and can be adjusted in a heating process at the Optician after purchase to the shape of your head. But there are more options to really change the shape of the frame, as the Fast Company graphic explains on the left.

Tom Davies BEspoke Frames Tom Davies started in 2001 with "bespoke" glasses, at this time targeting the very upper class with price at £5,000 (then about $10,000). Over the years, he brought it down to mass customization, with an internet order system for opticians, skilled, low-cost labor in China and a modular product architecture. His glasses now are about $600 — just in the middle of the price range of designer frames (but well above the U.S. average of $126). In 2009, Tom Davies made 36,000 frames, triple his 2008 tally. Sales
have been strongest with buyers who need unusual sizes. But the aim is
to reach the regular consumer.

The Fast Company article has more information about the process:

The linchpin in Davies's production process is a proprietary Web-based system called Supertool, which links his growing network of opticians to his Chinese workshop. After your optician measures you and helps you choose style and color, he'll plug the measurements and choices into Supertool; instantly, the data will pop up on a designer's screen in Shenzhen. Within two hours, that designer will have created a blueprint and a parts list for your frames. Then a team of technicians chooses the right arms — for efficiency, "they are semifinished," Davies says — and builds the front piece to order. Three to four weeks later, the glasses can be on your face.

Davies understood that educating the market is everything in mass customization, so he put a placed a video on You Tube showing how the process works and how the glasses are made (there are some more videos by him):

Sounds like a great service for me that I will consider for my next pair of glasses.

5 02, 2010

Ponoko opens manufacturing network hub in Germany. First step to original „mini factory“ network idea

By | 2018-06-14T11:07:51+00:00 Februar 5th, 2010|Co-creation, Design, Fabbing, User Manufacturing|

Products by users produced via the Ponoko manufactruing network A few days ago, Derek Elley from Ponoko gave me the good news that Ponoko has finally signed up a network partner in Europe.

I wrote about Ponoko several times. It is an online marketplace for everyone to make real things. Just like eBay provides the marketplace for buyers and sellers to engage, Ponoko provides the marketplace for buyers and sellers of product designs and digital making services. More than 40,000 user-generated designs have been instantly priced online, made and delivered since Ponoko launched in late 2007. It is a perfect illustration of the "user manufacturing" economy that Chirs Anderson features in the recent WIRED title story.

A core idea of Ponoko is that they want to connect a network of independent "mini factories" where the digital creations of users are turned in the moment. For a long time, this vision only worked with the two making hubs owned by Ponoko in in San Francisco, California and Wellington, New Zealand. But now, the first independent network hub has opened — and I am please to notice that it is in Germany.

Here, Ponoko now has partnered with fabber Formulor to open a making hub in Berlin. It means EU-based creators using the Ponoko online making system can now choose to have their products made in Berlin – paying just a fraction of the shipping costs which has made ordering products from Ponoko’s US and Pacific-based making hubs prohibitive.

The development also opens up the European market for creators around the world. Items can now be produced in the EU and shipped locally.

“It provides a glimpse into what we see as the future of Ponoko,” Ponoko CEO David ten Have  is quoted in a press announcement, “Over time we see our role expanding to be about connecting creators, digital fabricators, materials suppliers and buyers of goods rather than simply providing manufacturing services ourselves. So just like eBay provides the marketplace for buyers and sellers to engage, Ponoko provides the world’s first marketplace for buyers and sellers of product designs – and now digital making services.”

Ponoko is working with other digital making service providers to add more making hubs around the world.

The big question, however, is: Is this development particularly relevant given HP is now selling 3D printers and you can have your own manufacturing hub in your home?

Yes, I will argue.

  • Shipping costs between the US and EU are reduced from $60 to $9 for for smaller goods — so before you buy your own 3D printer, you can first try it out and get experience.
  • US creators (like ESTY and Adobe users) can ship their products to EU customers at 85% less cost, and with less environmental impact.
  • And the quality of home 3D printing and cutting may still be inferior to producing your stuff at a professional outlet.

But this is a very interesting question for research, one for which I hopefully will find time to think about more in the next months: When will you produce at home, when use a mini factory hub like Ponoko, and when just buy a standard product from your local superstore.

18 01, 2010

Will Generative Design Enable Mass Customization?

By | 2018-06-14T11:08:05+00:00 Januar 18th, 2010|Co-Design Process, Design, Guest Articles, Technologies & Enablers|

Generative Design is a term addressing a next generation CAD for architecture, product design & customer co-design. The basic idea is to develop design technologies that are helping to shape the way things are conceived, designed and made in a connected environment — and in a form that builds strongly on an interactive and intuitive design process by an (untrained) user, and not an engineering-like development of an object.  I have written about this before, but in a recent posting to his blog, Sivam Krish did summarize the contribution of Generative Design for MC quite well. Since many years, Sivam is one of the forerunners in this area.

Will Generative Design enable mass customization?

[ Repost from the blog Generative Design ]

by Sivam Krish

Picture by Federico Weber, Milan Mass customization is about empowering consumers. Its about allowing consumers to create what they like. Currently consumers are tricked into this.

Many companies now offer their online customers  – DIY design tools – which are in fact interactive front ends of catalogs . These interactive catalogs  enable millions of permutations that are not possible to store but can be manufactured, often  at additional cost. This is likely to change as competition extends the envelope of customization through the use of rapid manufacturing technologies.  Perhaps generative design technologies may be of help here.

Generative Design is about generating useful or viable design possibilities. These possibilities are now generated by random numbers – these very same numbers can also be generated by customers. The generative model could  be set to operate within manufacutrable and cost limits. By replacing the random component of generative design with customer preferences, the form shape texture and color of  hi-complexity consumer products can be scroll bared -by non designers . By bounding the parametric generative model with cost, engineering and other constraints – companies can ensure the feasibility of the product and ensure its manufacturability. More importantly, they can crowd source designs and create a great diversity of products – all of which need not be manufactured but will be available online in rendered realistic from. They will also benefit from the  marketing advantages of co-creation and customization.

Hence, generative design may in fact hold he key for unlocking the next generation of manufacturing  possibilities empowering non designers to create truly customized products.

This possibility from a design tool point of  view was fist demonstrated in Singapore in a workshop by Genometri in April 2007. Non designers designed a series of blue tooth devices using a generative model by pulling scroll bars.  Further experiments in consumer design were done by Matt Sinclair Nov last year, with very encouraging results.

Here is an interesting early stage example by Federico Weber at the Politechnic Milan that illustrates the principle very well: http://federicoweber.com/xylem/2009/11/ (The picture illustrating this posting has also been taken from Federico Weber).

The modeling and constraint management aspect of generative design may form the design rock bed of mass customization. It will allow companies to selectively open areas of design for consumer play ensuring that what is designed can be realized within cost, manufacturing and engineering limits.

For more information on this topic, browse through the very interesting blog of Sivam, generativedesign.wordpress.com

16 01, 2010

SMART launches huge user design contest — More than 10K designs submitted in first 10 days

By | 2018-06-14T11:08:07+00:00 Januar 16th, 2010|Cases-Consumer, Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Crowdsourcing, Design, Open/User Innovation|

Smart design contest After being rather inactive in the growing field of customer co-design and open innovation initiatives, Daimler AG, the automotive company, finally has launched a big bang: The Smart Design Contest.

10 days after its launch on Jan. 6, 2010, already more than 10,000 unique designs, 45,000 evaluations and 12,000 comments have been submitted.

The smart car always has been rather an expression of individuality ("than a car", some critics may add). And in its very original concept, one of the features was that drivers could exchange the body panels of the car easily during the usage stage and exchange them with others. While this option has been offered, I know no one who executed it. And also the colors which were available for the Smart are rather standard and not too innovative.

But now, at least in the virtual world, users can create really the Smart of their dream with regard to its exterior design. On a special site, smart-design-contest.com, participants have the possibility to either upload their own design(s) or use an on-line toolkit to virtually configure their designs. Participants can also actively contribute in the competition by voting for the best designs of other contestants and/or comment. It is a bit like a mashup of Threadless and Spreadshirt.

The contest has been programmed and is executed by HYVE AG in Munich, and hence has the typical features of the HYVE IdeaNet Software (Full Disclaimer: I am on the board of directors of HYVE AG, but have not been involved in this project), namely tools that make it users easy to contribute, Web2.0 functionality like commenting, further developing an other user's idea, community functionality, and an extensive evaluation function.

Daimler's motivation to run this project is, in my opinion, threefold:

  1. This is a great (and rather cheap) tool for interactive marketing and brand building.
  2. The contest submissions can provide input for the company's innovation process, i.e. which color combination people like, which themes are being addressed, which design languages used. This could be used for future internal planning and also a better targeted marketing campaign.
  3. The user design contest could become the base of a Threadless-alike business models: User designers design, consumers vote, and the best designs are sold as tuning kits to Smart owners. In the small print, Daimler already has set a price in such a case: 1500 Euro is the honorarium a winning designer would become. Alternatively, the foils also could used in a Spreadshirt-alike-business model: User designers submit ideas, and Smart owners pick their own favorite, which is produced with print-on-demand technology individual.

This is what is stated on the site:

"The 'style your smart' design contest is an opportunity to graphically display ideas for creative exterior design(s) for the smart fortwo. These designs could some day be applied via foil. Thought starters for design themes can be but are not limited to … environment, family, puzzles, animals, graffiti, art, urbanization, technology, sports …  

The 'style your smart' design contest aims at helping to identify exterior graphic themes and motives that YOU and/or others like. The designs and themes could be used to inspire future smart fortwo exterior; instead of another color there might be gallery type graphic themes to choose from or even the possibility to have your own theme and graphics. …

All submitted designs have the opportunity to win cash prizes amounting to a total of 5,000 Euros AND much, much more publicity and exposure."

But Smart also has prices just for participating by voting and commenting on the site, hence providing a great incentive for users to contribute — and to generate traffic on the site. So in general, I would say the marketing aspect of the project dominates by far. But who knows: Once the company gets more experience and confidence, users may not just upload colorful drawings, but provide input to real innovation.

I am curious to see how many designs will come in overall. If the growth on the site increases as in the first ten days, at the end more than 100,000 design shall have been submitted.


13 10, 2009

MCPC 2009 Conference Report Day 4: Fashion Lab: Anna Ruohonen, Selve, Servive, Rivolta on why customization is the true luxury in fashion

By | 2018-06-14T11:08:34+00:00 Oktober 13th, 2009|Clothing, Customization Trends, Design, Footwear, MCPC 2009|

MCPC_2009_Fashion_Lab The last day of the conference was dedicated to three labs, which provided an interactive platform for discussion around specialized fields. I joined the Fashion Lab.

We were a very nice group of people, ranging from luxury companies LV, Selve, or Paris-designer Anna Ruohonen to streetwear labels like Converse and Spreadshirt, from great students and professors from the Helsinki design and fashion scene, from specialist consultants like Sergio Dulio (footwear) to my academic colleagues from RWTH-TIM in Aachen.

The day started with a presentation by Sirkku Liukkonen, responsible for customization at the  Helsinki concept store of Anna Ruohonen. "From atelier work to mass customization", so the title of the journey Sirkku described.  Anna Ruohonen is a Paris-based fashion designer with two clothing labels carrying her name, both for men and women. Her style follows the tradition of Finnish design: the forms are architectural, the cuts are considered, and simplicity and sustainability are key concepts.

They started with customization for some retail clients and slowly moved into the consumer business after opening a mass customization concept store in Helsinki in April 2009. Products are produced together with the general items; all are produced on-demand in Paris. The popularity of the customization offering largely exceeded expectations. "Better fitting is the key word", Sirkku said. No wonder, as they offer the customization service at no additional fee. It is a "premium service for free".

An interesting debate started at this point: Conventionally, "sustainable fashion" is an oxymoron: Fashion is all about change and getting the latest stuff … But as Sirkku explained, sustainability is more than just using eco textiles: "If an item fits well and people really like it, people really will use it for a long time". And Sergio Dulio added: "Mass customization equals sustainability: the amount of products which are not sold corresponds to such a huge batch of energy without no use at all." An interesting debate that we will continue during the next conferences.

The presentation about Anna Ruohonen started a second stream of discussion (along the solution space dimension of our framework): How to balance between the design aesthetics of the brand and the vision of a star designer like Anna Ruohonen: Shall Anna allow the modifications of her dresses that they are suited for customers with body dimensions not seen in her patterns before? Where does the "dream" of a customer ends? What will this mean for a brand?

This is a question that also drives Claudia Kieserling, one of the longest members of our community. Claudia is founder and president of Selve, the first and leading customizer for ladies shoes in the world. "Luxury is a key characteristic of mass customization", she said. "No matter what price you ask, consumers see it as pure luxury." This is an interesting turning point in the discussion, as previously, we saw as one objective – or even as part of the definition – of mass customization that it should reach a large "mass".Claudia reported that her customers are coming for both fashion and fit (often starting for fit, and returning for fashion). Some of her best (and wealthy) customers have ordered more than 100 shoes — making the shopping of a creation process of her own. For her, "time and experience are the new luxury" – an impression shared by Kamel from Louis Vuitton.  

A final example of experience was provided by Sergio Dulio. He has consulted in the past months extensively to an Italian entrepreneur who wants to revolutionize the way how custom-made shoes in the upper segment are sold and produced. A concept / testing store has just been open at the famous Via della Spiga (#17) in Milan.

Under the name of "Rivolta", customers there can experience one of the most advanced configurators in the world. You not just can design your shoes like on your iPhone on huge screens, but also fully try your custom shoes virtually on your own body in a virtual mirror. There also will be an iPhone Application to customize your shoes on the run! Shoes are expensive (Euro 1400 an up), but targeted to business people who have expensive custom shoes anyway, but want to purchase them with a new twist and different level of service and experience. Here, the act of purchasing the shoe becomes a luxury experience.

The Fashion Lab further had a number of interesting live demos. Thorsten Harzer and Moritz Wellige from my group at RWTH Aachen demonstrated a financial model to calculate the impact of mass customization in the clothing industry, developed as part of our Servive project. We could see a demo of a 3D knitting machine — the complement to rapid manufacturing and laser sintering in the fashion industry ("data in, pullover out"). We got a demonstration of the Corpus.e Foot Scanner and its application at Pakerson, another upscale customizer of men's shoes with a successful store in St. Petersburg.

All in all, a great finale of a great conference!

20 09, 2009

Distributed user manufacturing network started: Ponoko and ShopBot announce partnership to provide users access to over 6,000 digital fabricators around the world

By | 2018-06-14T11:09:01+00:00 September 20th, 2009|Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Design, Fabbing, MC Alternatives, Technologies & Enablers, User Manufacturing|


During the 2007 US Presidential debates, journalist Tom Brokaw asked candidates Obama and McCain whether our challenges would be best solved by … "funding a Manhattan-style project or by supporting 100,000 garages across America to encourage the kind of industry and innovation that developed Silicon Valley?"

A new website takes the second approach! Inspired by Tom Brokaw's question to the presidential candidates, 100Kgarages is a community of workshops all over the world that are run by "Fabbers", with digital fabrication tools for precisely cutting, machining, drilling, or sculpting the components of any user  project.

The site has been launched on Sept. 16 by Ponoko and ShopBot, expanding the opportunities for ordinary users to get almost anything custom made and delivered from local state-of-the-art digital makers.

I have written several times about Ponoko in my blog, an online marketplace for everyone to make real things. It brings together creators, digital fabricators, materials suppliers and buyers. Since its launch in 2007, more than 30,000 user-generated designs "have been instantly priced online" (the official wording in the press release, I believe this means "uploaded and finished", but not ordered and delivered).

ShopBot is a manufacturer of affordable, high-performance CNC tools for digital fabrication of wood, plastic and aluminum products. With more than 6,000 ShopBots in thousands of shops in the US and 54 countries around the world, ShopBot is one of the largest producers of CNC routers in North America.

With the cooperation of the both companies and the launch of the 100kGarages website, anyone can get their ideas made locally with the click of a mouse, and delivered within just a few days.

Users can go to the site to get things custom made by searching a map for a local garage workshop, or submitting a request and choosing from bids placed by a range of ShopBot owners to make almost anything. It’s free for everyone to search and submit requests, and for fabricators to post profiles and bids.

People are creating a wide range of products like tables, chairs, cabinets, car parts, signage, boats, musical instruments, gaskets, sheds, housing and all of those impossible to find things made from wood, plastic, metal and composite materials.

“Our partnership means everyone now has easy access to their own local 3D fabricator. This is the first step to providing a solution for the doers and makers out there who want to join in re-building America, one garage at a time.”, says ShopBot’s President Ted Hall in the press release.

In the moment, the site still looks a bit beta, but it is a great starting point and another sign of the coming age of user manufacturing.

20 08, 2009

Milk or sugar? New repository of customization offerings

By | 2018-06-14T11:09:13+00:00 August 20th, 2009|Customization Trends, Design, MC/OI on the Web, Research Studies|

mild or sugar - all things custom A new repository for mass customized products was launched today. Still a long way to go to match the 600+ entries of our configurator-database.com, but a great attempt with a fresh look.

The crew behind the "milk or sugar" website (look here why this name) is ILUMY, an Amsterdam based design agency. Initially to serve research for a client project, they built a database of websites where you can customize and order products online. They added reviews, and the database became a site, offering some links to interesting sites for customization, like a custom sleeping bag, samurai sword, bicycle, skate board, scrabble board, watch, machine parts, perfume, lingerie, wallpaper or lego model. And soon, your built to order fire extinguisher, guitar, radio controlled car, protein shake or kanu.

Soon, visitors shall be able to also post reviews and upload images of the things they had made to order.

Sounds like a great idea — and I am very happy about every new repository of things custom!

Enjoy: www.milkorsugar.com

18 08, 2009

Custom Jewelry: FORBES Video report about Paragon Lake

By | 2018-06-14T11:09:21+00:00 August 18th, 2009|Cases-Consumer, Customization Trends, Design, Long Tail|

Paragonlake I wrote earlier that one of the large trends in mass customization is the creation of a network structure where an intermediary brokers between diverse retailers and manufacturers for custom products. Customax.com or Bivolino Services are good examples for this trend in the fashion industry.

As reported before, Paragon Lake wants to bring this model to the retail world. Forbes just published a nice Video report about them (you have to watch a short commercial before it starts!), with interviews with the key persons behind the concept.

Paragon Lake was founded in 2006 by Matt Lauzon while he and fellow students were at Babson College. They were exploring personalization and other new ways that people shop. They soon realized there was an opportunity to drastically improve the way fine jewelry is bought and sold. Their vision led to the creation of Paragon Lake. On a presentation at the Smart Customization Seminar at MIT in November 2008, Matt introduced his company to a larger audience.

The group's focus on fine jewelry was inspired by a friend's search for a present for his girlfriend. The friend thought that jewelry would be the perfect gift, but considered jewelry shopping experience to be intimidating and overwhelming. After visiting a few local jewelers, he was unable to find a piece that was just right. Hearing his story, Matt realized that technology could not only help fix this problem, but also revolutionize an industry.

Paragon Lake joins consumers, retailers and designers together to create one of a kind jewelry using a special sales application tool with really cool rendering capabilities. The video explains the concept quite neatly.

A good background report about the company is here.