28 10, 2008

Personal Fabrication for Dummies — Teaching Videos at Replicator, Inc.

By | 2018-06-14T11:11:17+00:00 Oktober 28th, 2008|Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Customization Trends, Design, Fabbing, Long Tail, MC/OI on the Web, Technologies & Enablers, User Manufacturing|

I just discovered the great new blog by Joseph Flaherty, founder of a start-up called Replicator, Inc. While the company will launch in full speed in February 2009, they already were quite successful in securing seed money and attention in a number of important start-up competitions (MIT 100K  (semi-finals), Princeton (semi-finals), and the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition (runner up prize winner)).

I hope that we can meet Joseph at the MIT Smart Customization Seminar in three weeks.

Replicator, Inc., manufactures and sells custom consumer products. Their first product is custom jewelry for tween and teenage girls, sold under the name WhirlyBelle. This is made possible by combining web-based design tools with custom manufacturing

His company blog not just has a recent posting about 47 words you can not use on custom Nike sneakers (which I do not quote here to get my blog not banned from your corporate content filter). In another posting, he has a great chart about the price premiums you can gain with mass customization:

Price premiums with mass customization

A great number of postings covers user manufacturing and the new opportunities for users to produce anything they want. In one of my favorite posts, Joseph explains all technologies that enable personal fabrication. You probably also could Google those, but Joseph created a great posting with small videos explaining all technologies.

Many people think 3D printers are the way this will happen, but there are half a dozen other amazing technologies that allow people to make anything they can imagine.

While by no means an exhaustive list, his list is a is a very convenient overview for anyone interested in how the idea user co-design meets manufacturing. As Joseph writes:

"Combined with web-based design tools these technologies could enable a change as profound as the industrial revolution: increasing the options for customers while reducing the environmental impact."

His posting shows examples of these machines in action and provides a glimpse of what is possible already today:

1. 3D Printers (some notable examples: Z Corp., Dimension, 3d systems, Objet, Desktop Factory, Paragon Lake, Figure Prints, EOS)

2. Laser Cutters  (Notable Examples: Epilog, Trotec, Etchstar, Ponoko, VersaLaser)

3. Waterjet Cutters (Notable Examples: OMAX, Flow Corp, OCC)

4. 2D Plotter Cutters (Notable Examples: Cricut, CraftRobo, Xyron)

5. Print on Demand (Notable Companies: Blurb, Lulu, Shutterfly)

6. Direct To Garment Printing (Notable Companies: Cafe Press, Zazzle, Spreadshirt, Spoonflower)

7. CNC Milling (Notable Examples: eMachine Shop, Tech Shop, Craftsman Compucarve)

8. CNC Embroidery (Notable Examples: Singer, Brother, Toyota)

9. Cut & Sew Construction (Notable Examples: NIKEiD, Timbuk2, Freitag)

10. 3D Scanning (Notable Examples: Z Corp., Next Engine, 3D Digital Corp., Corpus-e)

Go to his web site to watch all videos

11 10, 2008

Microcentrum Symposium on Rapid Manufacturing and Mass Customization

By | 2018-06-14T12:53:28+00:00 Oktober 11th, 2008|Events, Fabbing, User Manufacturing|

Microcentrum Rapid Manufacturing & Mass Customization Symposium
18 November 2008, ’s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands

A new symposium on 18 November in ’s-Hertogenbosch brings Mass Customization and Rapid Manufacturing together. Organized by Microcentrum, a large Dutch research and high-tech education  organization, the seminar brings these two hot topics together.

The text of the pre-announcement describes quite neatly the topic and idea of the event:

A nice example of a customized product manufactured with RM technology
Matching mass customization and rapid manufacturing can be compared to writing a letter: Today anyone can write a personalized letter and merge it with data on paper. But why can this be done with letters and not with plastic, metal or ceramic objects? Individuality plays a central role in an increasing number of industrial and consumer products. This topic will be discussed by experts with various backgrounds, including RM guru Terry Wohlers from the United States. I also will have the opportunity to provide a keynote on this event.

The steam engine and the industrial revolution went alongside with each other , and the chip and the second industrial revolution were also closely related. The first industrial revolution was concerned with mechanization, the second one with automation. Mechanization led to many identical objects for many users. The distance between makers and users grew. They became producer and consumer. Automation reinforced this. Mass production exploded in terms of numbers and globalization. The areas in which mechanization and automation took place overlapped each other only slightly and the result was continuous production in large numbers as opposed to a revival of craftsmanship.

Thus the freedom that automation offers does not lead to a greater diversity in products the average individual can obtain. New insights and technological possibilities however, have led to something that lies between the old and new situation: Mass Customization. Products are still made in large quantities. But now the individual does have influence. The Internet plays an important role in enabling the consumer to configure objects to his needs. One of the solutions that has much to offer, despite the fact that it concerns industrial production, is Rapid Manufacturing. The form of objects is no longer dictated by machine tools but rather is directly defined by digital – thus inexpensive – information that can vary for each product and makes each object unique. With this the consumer can also create his own design.

Can sufficient added value be generated with Mass Customization and Rapid Manufacturing for the products to rise above those of the competition? How can both generate profits? This new symposium also targets those responsible for making strategic choices.

The event ‘Rapid Manufacturing & Mass Customization 2008’ will take place on 18 November 2008 in ’s-Hertogenbosch.The conference language is English. Students are entitled to a reduced entry fee.
Organisation: Mikrocentrum. Chairman: Rein van der Mast

Update: Program now online:

09.00  Welcome
10.00  Opening of the symposium
Geert Hellings, director Mikrocentrum
10.10  Introduction: the shortening distance between RM and MC
Rein van der Mast – chairman
10.30  Profiting from Mass Customization: Success Factors and Pitfalls
Frank T. Piller, RWTH Aachen & MIT Smart Customization Group, M.I.T.
11.20  The shape of things to come
Jan Willem Gunnink, Delcam PLc
11.50  Coffee break
12.10  How to get more out of MC, wherever possible with RM
Hans Maessen, Solvagroep
12.40  Realizing the business potential of rapid manufacturing
Martijn Laar, Berenschot
13.10  Lunch break
14.00  The Future of Rapid and Custom Manufacturing
Terry Wohlers, Wohlers Associates, Inc
14.50  Rapid Manufacturing cost-effective?
Mike Ayre, Crucible
15.40  Metal Rapid Manufacturing
Jonas van Vaerenbergh, Layerwise
16.10  Coffee break
16.30  RapidManufacturing.net
Liam van Koert, Array Publications
16.40  Tailored solutions for sourcing Rapid Manufacturing components
Jurgen Laudus, Materialise
17.20  Conclusions
Rein van der Mast – chairman
17.30  Drinks and networking
For more information, check back to the event web site.

25 09, 2008

The next generation of user design: Forget about CAD, just handdraw your design, and Ponoko will make it

By | 2018-06-14T12:53:33+00:00 September 25th, 2008|Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Crowdsourcing, Design, Fabbing, Open/User Innovation, User Manufacturing|

While this may be small step for mankind, it is a large step for user co-design and customization. Until today, users who wanted to get a custom product had to be able to use at least an online configurator, or, in case they wanted larger freedom of creation as offered by user manufacturing sites like Ponoko, eMachineshop, Shapeways, Fabidoo, or others, they had to be able to use some graphik design software.

Now Ponoko makes co-designing even more intuitive and easier. The crew today launched their service Photomake. It turns digital photos of hand drawings into real products simply by uploading them to the Ponoko website.

The company is again one step further to its mission of making "it super simple for anyone to make anything that is on their mind, at low cost."

Previously at Techcrunch40, Ponoko launched Designmake for designers to make things on demand – over 10,000 have signed up. Earlier this year, they also launched Ponoko ID for shoppers to request goods to be made just for them by these designers. Now with Photomake they're inviting creative people who don't know how to use design software to participate simply by sketching what they want on a piece of paper and uploading a photo of it to get it made.

Derek Elley from Ponoko said in an e-mail that "One of the cool things about Photomake is the quality of the result – it's truly hand drawn. Because digital making is so very precise every tiny bump in the hand drawn creation is picked up and made for real. This gives a very natural and human feel to the things you make."

The trick behind Photomake is some very clever file conversion technology that is more accurate than anything that has come before it. It is designed so that what you draw is what is made, without any touching up required in a design software program.

This is a major revolution in the democratization of design and innovation. We know from empirical research that many users innovate and have creative ideas ahead of the market. Up to today, they either needed a manufacturer listening to them and turning their ideas into products. Or they had to have specific skills to turn their ideas by themselves into a design and get it produced. The later process was made much easier in the last few years, but still required skills in using design software and how to place a design on a machine. Now, even this hurdle blurs … driven by new technology that allows this process at rather low cost.

So, go ahead and just hand draw your next Christmas presents.

Press release by Ponoko on their new service.
– Video showing the entire process: http://www.ponoko.com/photomake
– On the upcoming MIT Smart Customization seminar, Cathy Lewis, CEO of Desktop Factory, will present what will be next: Transfer your custom designs into products in your home as easy as today printing a document.

12 08, 2008

Shapeways Launches Consumer-Focused Customizable 3D Merchandise Platform

By | 2018-06-14T12:54:00+00:00 August 12th, 2008|Co-creation, Design, Fabbing, User Manufacturing|

is spinning-out from the Lifestyle Incubator of Royal Philips Electronics, located in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. The site can be seen in the lines of Ponoko, Zapfab and other user manufacturing sites allowing users to create and manufacture their own design with a large freedom of design.

The site very neatly incorporates all elements of a good user manufacturing system I outlined some time ago in this blog:

– A 3D model library
– An easy-to-operate 3D-design toolkit (well, not at this stage yet)
– A flexile manufacturing system producing the users' design (more or less) rapidely

Utilizing a 3D model library, (starting with a lamp and a bowl), consumers can manipulate the structure, look and feel of their own products. Users can twist, mash, and create their own 3D objects which then are being produced within 10-days or less. Shapeways then verifies objects to ensure printability and provides a real-time cost estimate. Within 10 working days, a tangible 3D product will be produced and arrive at the consumer's home globally.

Browsing over the site, it still looks a bit beta, and their co-design toolkits is an external Java-based software that demands quite some time to download and install separately. Using it then however was easy (despite some annoying comments that I should create a profile). But it is a start …

Anyway, Shapeways takes a major step towards the next generation of consumer co-creation and mass customization. Consumers without 3D modeling skills can shape, mash, imprint and design their own 3D products at Shapeways.com. Products are produced with a rapid manufacturing system, and in the moment they all still have this white prototyping look 🙂

From lamps with a personal message to fruit bowls linking back to memorable moments, the Shapeways Creator Engine has a beta library of predesigned product templates which the company will grow rapidly over 2009.

"We recognize the desire of consumers who want to own or give something that is unique and has their special, personal touch," Peter Weijmarshausen, CEO of Shapeways, is quoted in a press release.

"With the Creator Engine, now anyone can participate in the artistic process and create something that is truly a reflection of their own needs and tastes. With the Creator Engine, we have broken the currently existingtrade-off between freedom of design and the complexity of the design process."

Shapeways can be seen as a new application of rapid manufacturing in the consumer space. I recently attended the Rapid Manufacturing Conference at Loughborough University. While a posting on this event is overdue since weeks (especially after Jochen Krisch invited one publicly), I refer you to Matt Sinclairs's great report about this conference which also provides you much more insights in the kind of products we can expect in the future on platforms of Shapeways.


– My earlier posts on Fabbing and Rapid Manufacturing.

– Matt Sinclair's report on the 3rd RM Conference

17 05, 2008

Conference invitation: 3rd International Conference on Rapid Manufacturing (RM) to be held at Loughborough University on July 9 and 10

By | 2018-06-14T12:54:40+00:00 Mai 17th, 2008|Customization Trends, Fabbing, Technologies & Enablers, User Manufacturing|

RM-ConferenceRapid Manufacturing, also know as direct, digital, generative manufacture or additive fabrication, is one of the most exciting emergent technologies available to mass customize today. RM uses 3D Computer Aided Design (CAD) data to directly ‚print‘ or ‚grow‘ parts in a variety of polymeric, metallic, ceramic and organic materials. When fully implemented, it allows almost unlimited variety at no extra variable cost. Old paradigms of optimizing between switching and inventory cost will go away. While the potential of these technologies have been discussed since years, only very recently a larger scale of commercial application has begun.

The most exciting application of rapid manufacturing, in my perspective, is its enabling role for user manufacturing (previous postings on the topic). A new generation of rather cheap machines is coming to the market now promise to replicate the development we had in the printing industry: Form large printing presses to large laser printing systems to the desktop printer. The same may happen to manufacturing. From large centralized factories to decentralized plants to a factory on your desk.

The International Conference on Rapid Manufacturing (RM) is the world’s only conferences focused on this trend. Organized by some core members of our mass customization community, the Rapid Manufacturing Group at Loughborough University in the UK, the conference focuses solely on the application of ‚end use parts‘, made using additive layer manufacturing technologies.

The past events have been attended by over 150 delegates and speakers from around the world. The event provides a two day showcase of invited speakers, including the very best in both academic RM research activity and commercial RM applications. The event also plays host to a parallel technology and materials exhibition supported by leading RM systems vendors exclusively for conference delegates.

The program is divided in an academic and a business stream. Topics presented in the business track include:

– Developing a business case for customized RM
– RM for the home based market
– Ultrasonic Consolidation
– Developing intellectual property in RM product
– Pushing the boundaries of RM consumer products
– The socio-economic benefits of RM
– DMLS for high performance RM applications
– Quality management in RM using non destructive testing

The conference further will cover process and materials issues, design opportunities, management and organizational issues and industrial applications, making the conference of relevance to engineers, designers and business managers, as well as academics and researchers and RM materials and system developers.

For more information, registration, and the full program, please go to http://www.rm-conference.com/index.htm

27 04, 2008

Ultimate Customization: Design and Deliver – a new project that examines the next era of mass customization

By | 2018-06-14T12:54:51+00:00 April 27th, 2008|Customization Trends, Design, Fabbing, Guest Articles, Research Studies|

CardiffpicA guest article by Daniel Eyers from the Cardiff University Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre (CUIMRC). CUIMRC is a new center at Cardiff University in the UK. In this post, Daniel describes about the mission and research at this center.

Imagine the opportunities that exist when the freedom of design opportunities afforded by Mass Customisation can be realised using innovative Rapid Manufacturing technologies, where one-off custom manufacturing is the norm, not the exception. As these technologies mature and become increasingly accessible to end-users, will this enablement of Mass Customisation be achievable? If so, what will be the effects of customised demand for business when compared to traditional Mass Production?

Cardiff University Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre (CUIMRC), funded by the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council, is the UK’s leading research centre in the field of sustainable manufacturing R&D. Ultimate Customisation: Design & Deliver is a new project that examines the concept of Ultimate Customisation, the next era of Mass Customisation. Ultimate Customisation will involve much greater personalisation, where customers actively take part as co-designers and thus contribute to the value creation. The project aims to understand the viability of Ultimate Customisation using advanced manufacturing technologies such as those associated with Rapid Manufacturing. In this project we explore the possible implications of Rapid Manufacturing within a consumer facing environment, challenging traditional mass customisation production economics and disrupting existing commercial logistics, distribution and marketing paradigms.

Our previous consideration for Mass Customisation of logistics (through the McCLOSM study) demonstrated the implications for businesses in customising both logistics and manufacturing, and now that this project approaches its conclusion, the Ultimate Customisation: Design & Deliver project will continue to examine the implications of Rapid Manufacturing technology.

Considering the current status of knowledge, we have found that extensive literature exists for Mass Customisation, and separately, Rapid Manufacturing. However, as a result of rising individualism of consumer demand together with the technological improvement of Rapid Manufacturing, we believe these concepts will increasingly be implemented together in the short term. Despite numerous companies actively engaged in this field, as yet the body of knowledge analysing the overall topic has as yet received little research attention.

As a research centre, CUIMRC aims to help industry through creating greater understanding of the complex interrelationship between economics and environmental and social factors in developing a truly sustainable business. Our approach to research is to actively engage closely with our research partners and their associated supply chains in order to get an impartial, first hand viewpoint of their particular situation, while also allowing us to maximise the relevance and usefulness of our research outputs. Industrial secondments in which our researchers spend time embedded within host organisations have proven an extremely useful mechanism in this respect. We engage with stakeholders on several other levels, ranging from their participation in surveys and focus groups through to collaborative partnerships on individual projects and strategic input to the consortium through representation on our Steering Group.

The Ultimate Customisation project involves a number of collaborative industrial partners embarking on Rapid Manufacturing-Enabled Mass Customised production and through case studies and modelling approaches, we are exploring both demand and supply management implications arising from Mass Customisation. For the organisations involved in the project, our research aims to provide a clear understanding of both their present and prospective supply chains through ‘what-if’ simulations of futuristic business models for Ultimate Customisation. Additionally, from these assessments we can also assist in the optimisation of processes to directly benefit their business. The collaborative partners represent a cross section of industry, including highly experienced designers and manufacturers with capabilities both for rapid manufacture of customised products and traditional mass production.

During our research we anticipate making a number of Ultimate Customisation publications based on our research findings, many of which will be linked to our industrial collaboration. A warm invitation is extended to any individuals or organisations wishing to become involved with the research or receive project updates/dissemination information to register their interest with us.

Contact for more information Daniel Eyers (eyersDR@cf.ac.uk) or Hartanto Wong (wongH@cf.ac.uk).

31 03, 2008

New Blog on Mass Customization and Rapid Ranufacturing and how this will influence the design profession

By | 2018-06-14T12:55:07+00:00 März 31st, 2008|Co-creation, Design, Fabbing, Research Studies, User Manufacturing|

MattWe dont do retro is the personal blog of Matt Sinclair, a designer based in Helsinki. I first met Matt on the MCPC 2007 conference and then again last week on a workshop in Helsinki, and he does REALLY interesting work on user co-design.

His blog mainly concerned with mass customization and rapid manufacturing, which are the areas he researching for his PhD at Loughborough University in the UK. But you’ll also find information about other subjects that interest him – lead user innovation, open source design and industrial design in general (Matt also wrote one of the most extensive MCPC 2007 reviews)!

His Ph.D. is titledAn investigation of the feasibility of product architectures to facilitate consumer-created designs in the consumer electronics industry, using rapid manufacturing technologies as an enabler

While he expects not to be ready before Summer 2010, his early thoughts already are quite interesting:

„Rapid Manufacturing (RM) is defined as the direct production of finished parts or products, most often utilising one of a number of 3D printing technologies. … The most important difference between rapid manufacturing technologies and traditional mass manufacturing technologies such as injection moulding is the absence of tooling. This has a number of important implications. One of the common features of mass manufacturing processes is that the means of production require substantial initial investment, however once in place the cost of manufacturing a single part or product (relative to the initial investment) is negligible. It is therefore a basic principle of mass manufacturing that as the number of parts produced increases, the cost of production of each individual part decreases. This inevitably leads to uniformity, since even small design changes require significant reinvestment in tooling.

Mass customisation offers the possibility of designing for niche markets, in small production runs, but it will be impossible for a designer, or even a design team, to be an expert in all these niches. Designers will therefore need to accept the necessity of inviting consumers to take part in the design process, even to design their own products. Furthermore, rapid manufacturing reduces the level of technological expertise required to design functioning parts. It is therefore likely that consumers will begin to design and produce their own products whether officially sanctioned by a brand or not.

The purpose of the traditional design process is not just to impose a uniform aesthetic however, it also refines and rejects on the basis of ergonomics, durability, integration with other products and systems, cost etc. These are all areas in which the designer’s expertise is the best tool to resolve the conflicting demands of a product brief. To make sense of the potential for multiple product variants which mass customisation offers, my hypothesis is therefore that the task of the industrial designer will in future be to create modular product architectures which define and limit the parameters of any possible design.“

Go to Matt’s blog here: We dont do retro

10 03, 2008

Zapfab: User-generated content meets 3D Printing

By | 2018-06-14T12:55:30+00:00 März 10th, 2008|Cases-Consumer, Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Crowdsourcing, Customization Trends, Design, Fabbing, Open/User Innovation, User Manufacturing|

ZapfabA new Ponoko-alike company is coming from Manchester in the UK! Zapfab Ltd is a user manufacturing start up that offers a new way of delivering individualized, customized products. As other companies in this field, they are combining the creativity of user-generated content with the power of 3D Printing (fabbing).

In a press release I got today, the company is described as follows:

„User-generated content is ubiquitous throughout the internet, from weblogs to YouTube videos. Zapfab builds on this trend, by providing a website where users can easily generate unique designs for 3D objects.

3D Printing is rapidly gaining ground as a way of creating real, physical objects from 3D design data. Zapfab provides an easy way to access this technology: Once you have generated a 3D design you can choose to have it 3D printed: Zapfab will 3D print the design and deliver the finished object to you.

The Zapfab website has two main areas: the Design Catalog and the 3D Customizer. The Design Catalog contains all the designs on the site and is a repository like Google’s 3D warehouse. The 3D Customizer is where the customizing takes place: Each design can be customized in different ways: color, size, pattern, etc. and the 3D Customizer contains simple controls for each of the options. So, once a user has customized a design, she can save it back into the catalog for other people to see. And then they in turn can customize and build on her design.

“We see three main groups of users for Zapfab.com,” said Julie Wood, Zapfab Director, in the press release “First, we have made the 3D Customizer really easy to use, so that anyone can create a unique, customized design in just a few minutes.

Second, there are a range of users with 3D modelling skills, who will be able to upload their designs to the site; and we aim to make it easy for them to add customizations to those designs.

Third, users with programming or scripting skill will be able to create new, highly-customizable designs. And all the designs, from the simplest to the most complex, are customizable through the same easy-to-use 3D Customizer.”

At the moment, Zapfab’s Design Catalog contains over 100 customized designs, ranging from bowls to boxes and bangles. All of the designs can be 3D printed “as is”, or freely customized. It is a nice, but at this stage not too creative collection of things. But I hope to see much more activity on their side, and given that they are located in Europe, I also will try this service by myself in the next weeks and let you know about my experiences.

4 03, 2008

Research Project Presents Custom-Fit Motorbike Helmet

By | 2018-06-14T12:55:39+00:00 März 4th, 2008|Cases-Consumer, Fabbing, Technologies & Enablers|

From 3D scanning to a custom helmetA recent survey revealed that many motorcyclists have problems in finding a perfect fitting helmet. Mass production cannot solve this issue. Today, partial personalization is done by offering the consumer the choice between with different paddings. But a new manufacturing philosophy is needed to produce a fully customised helmet, perfectly formed to the geometrical features (=head) of a user.

Research from the Custom-fit Project, funded by 6th framework program of the EU, offers a solution: fully personalised helmets at a cost effective rate. The starting point is the 3D scanning of the rider’s head shape, using a laser scanner developed by Custom fit partner Human Solutions. The scanned surface model represents the reference point from where adaptations are made on a standard design, resulting in a helmet design, perfectly shaped to the rider’s head (carried out with a specialised CAD tool from the project partner Delcam).

Finally the customised part of the helmet, the liner, is manufactured using a new Rapid Manufacturing machine (a Power Printing Process tool developed in the project by DeMonfort University) which builds the product layer by layer with a high productivity by sintering polymeric powders specifically selected for the new process.

The main issue with custom helmet is safety. While the custom production offer large advances with regard to comfort due to better fit, the safety prepositions of a laser sintered product are still open. To improve this factor, the customised helmets use the same amount of expanded polistyrene that is used in standard and certified helmets (this material is principally responsible for the function of shock absorption). Moreover, some special customisation of the mechanical characteristics of the customised liner should increase safety level, for example lowering the tendency of the helmet to be pulled off the head during riding.

The project has also dealt with the reorganization of service and delivery, by studying a new way to interact with customers form the moment they start the order process, where the head needs to be ’scanned‘, to the point in which the customised helmet is delivered. All modification to the supply chain have been studied. Initially the rider/customer will probably face an increase in price and delivery time to have a Custom Fit helmet. Nevertheless they will be rewarded by being the owner of a unique, custom-made helmet, not only more comfortable but safer as well.

Context: Custom-Fit is an industry led project to investigate the possibility of moving towards knowledge based manufacturing and customised production through integration of knowledge in Rapid Manufacturing, Information Technology and Material Science. I am serving as a scientific adviser of the project. Funded under the Sixth Framework Programme, the project involves 30 partners from around Europe. The aim is to create a fully integrated system for the design, production and supply of individualised products. It has targeted product for implementing the new technology, including motorcycle seats, helmets, implants and prosthesis.

1 03, 2008

Ponoko: Design Contest and Latest Press on User Manufacturing Enabler Ponoko

By | 2018-06-14T12:55:44+00:00 März 1st, 2008|Co-creation, Crowdsourcing, Design, Fabbing, User Manufacturing|

PonokoPonoko (see earlier report) gave one of the favorite presentations at the MCPC 2007 in Boston. The company is a perfect example of user manufacturing. Nic from Ponoko just informed me about their 10-day design challenge series, running from today until March 10. Each day, they ask for designs within a special category.

Being a small company, prices are not that big, but it will be lots of fun and it seems to be an easy way to test Ponoko. The Ponoko crew also can fill its assortment of user design with this project — and thus, even if you do not win, chances are that other people like your design and you can sell it though their on-demand manufacturing system. The winner gets $1,000. 10 get $300. 25 get their designs made for free …

For more details on the contest, go here.

Ponoko also got plenty of press in the last weeks, here is a review:

The New York Times – Tinkering at Home, Selling on the Web

The Economist – Bespoke Manufacturing – I made it my way

BBC News – The shape of things to come

Wired – (multiple articles)

MIT Technology Review – Automated Custom Manufacturing

TechCrunch – (multiple articles)

Engadget – Ponoko now live to make, market your gizmo

TrendWatching – 8 important consumer trends for 2008

Treehugger – (multiple articles)

2 02, 2008

Industry Study on State of Rapid Manufacturing and the Future of Production

By | 2018-06-14T12:56:10+00:00 Februar 2nd, 2008|Customization Trends, Fabbing, Technologies & Enablers, User Manufacturing|

A laser-sintering machineEOS, a leading manufacturer of laser-sintering systems, recently presented a market study on the state of laser-sintering technology for production tasks (called rapid manufacturing, e-Manufacturing or also fabbing). These technologies have been used pre-dominantly for prototyping tasks in the past where they allowed experimentation to a much higher degree. But their real economic impact comes from their role as a manufacturing technology, allowing custom manufacturing with no switching cost. It is now starting to compete with conventional casting technologies.

Rapid manufacturing delivers end products, functional parts and tools directly from CAD data. A laser heats and melts powdered plastics or metals layer by layer, until the build is complete and a final product can be taken out of the system. Whether it is jewelery, clothes, lamps, chairs or functional parts for components that are being manufactured, laser sintering and similar generative manufacturing technologies enable the creation of products with highly complex and filigreed structures and forms that are unthinkable geometries for conventional series production – and each piece can be customized at no additional cost.

EOS is, according to its own statement, the world-leading provider of this technology with revenues in laser-sintering of 59.7 million Euro in 2007, an increase of 14 percent compared to the previous year. This number shows that the market still is very small compared to the multi-billion market of traditional production equipment.

On the recent EuroMold Trade Show, the company conducted a survey among industry experts about the future of manufacturing. Is individualized series production from CAD data going to prevail in the future? And which technologies will drive this type of production? The answers on this survey have been published in a recent press release.

While no information is given on the number of respondents or any basic statistical validity, and the study obviously is biased due to its originator, here some quotes from the press release which address some questions I often get from readers of this blog:

33% of the respondents believe that individualized production with laser-sintering is already market-ready, while 37% predict the establishment of the technology in the market within the next three years. The rest anticipate the establishment of rapid manufacturing within five years, with only 4% seeing a lag of ten years.

EossuccessAccording to the survey, rapid manufacturing is driven by the general mass customization trend. Both industry and end consumers increasingly request individually manufactured products, creating a potential demand for mass customization of those products. And this is exactly where rapid manufacturing comes into play: 28% of those interviewed said that the trend towards individualized series production is the most important factor for the success of the technology.

Nearly a quarter of the interviewees saw greater “cost savings compared to conventional technologies”.
22% judged that rapid manufacturing will overtake traditional technologies due to “shorter product life cycles”.

EoschallengesBut rapid manufacturing with laser-sintering also faces a number of challenges: 29% of the interviewees called the limited choice of materials as the greatest barrier to implementation of rapid manufacturing technology.

Interestingly, respondents felt that the main difficulty is not so much the emerging technology itself, but rather a lack of knowledge and openness in the industry. Approximately a quarter of the respondents judged the “lack of know-how in the industry” as a hindrance. Companies are yet not aware about the technology or lack the capability to change their design and production processes in such a radical way.

Finally the interviewees were asked for their predictions about production methods 20 years in the future.
A clear majority (63%) forecast the broad establishment of mass customization in the Western world. 21% even believe that end customers will have their own mini-factories and produce their own products with rapid manufacturing. About 9% of those asked went so far as to remark that, in 20 years time, manual manufacturing will only take place on the PC.


My previous posts on rapid manufacturing
EOS site with case studies and more articles
– 3rd International Rapid Manufacturing Conference 2008 in the UK – I will speak there as well!

2 01, 2008

User Manufacturing Trendwatching Report

By | 2018-06-14T12:56:29+00:00 Januar 2nd, 2008|Co-creation, Customization Trends, Design, Fabbing, MC Alternatives, User Manufacturing|

Make-it-yourself trendTrendwatching, 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:

# New Zealand-based Ponoko (which works like a Zazzle for 3D objects, see my original article on them here)

# 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 Ponoko (more here).

– 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.

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10 11, 2007

MIT Technology Review on Ponoko: „Ponoko wants to give customers the tools to design and sell whatever they want.“

By | 2018-05-07T15:31:10+00:00 November 10th, 2007|Co-creation, Customization Trends, Fabbing, Long Tail, MC Alternatives, User Manufacturing|

How Ponoko works (Source: Ponoko.com)Last week, Michael Gibson published a very nice analysis on Ponoko in the MIT Technology Review. I wrote about this company before, and the article has a nice summary of the recent developments of this user manufacturing start up.

Gibson writes:

„For most companies, product design and development is a long process of trial and error, involving, among other things, in-house designers, committees, timed product releases, and, ultimately, customer feedback. Until a product sells, or if it doesn’t sell, it takes up costly shelf space in either stores or warehouses.

But by letting individuals dream up, make, and then sell unique products on demand, Ponoko is attempting to eliminate the product-development wing. Ultimately, it hopes to eliminate the need for a centralized manufacturing plant as well, by recruiting a large enough community of digital manufacturers–people scattered around the world who have 3-D printers, CNC routers, and laser cutters. Moving the site of production as close as possible to the point of purchase will reduce the need for long-distance shipping.

„Just as personal computing went from the mainframe to the desktop, and the result was distributed desktop computing, we see the same trend occurring with digital manufacturing, as it moves from the warehouse to the desktop,“ says Derek Elley, the chief strategy officer for Ponoko.“

At the end of the article, Gibson quotes Phillip Torrone, a senior editor at Make magazine, who tried Ponoko to create a custom stand for his iPhone:

„They did everything that was required for me to get my product,“ Torrone says. „Their tutorials are fine; the templates were good examples. Pretty much, they did everything right. Now the question is, is there a demand? How much money does a company like this need to make to stay afloat?“

Ellery’s answer is that, eventually, Ponoko’s revenue will come entirely from digital services, not from manufacturing fees. The company intends to develop six revenue streams, including ad sales and commissions on design purchases.“

For more analysis, head to the full article.

Ponoko and related services, and the corresponding business model, are the theme of my upcoming webinar with Pure Inisghts. More information here!

9 11, 2007

Webinar: The Next Gen of Mass Customization: User Manufacturing, Instant Companies, and Customer Co-Creation (Nov 29, 2007 on your desktop)

By | 2018-05-07T15:31:14+00:00 November 9th, 2007|Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Crowdsourcing, Design, Events, Fabbing, Long Tail, MC Alternatives, Open/User Innovation, Technologies & Enablers, User Manufacturing|

How a new infrastructure is enabling consumers to become instant manufacturers – and your future competitor — 10% discount for MC&OI Blog readers

Webinar on the future of mass customization

I am coming back to your desktop. After the large success of an earlier webinar on mass customization, London based Pure Inisghts is organizing a second webinar on the theme, this time around my new favorite topic of user manufacturing.

The topic: We are used to have a networked laser printer on every desk in our office and in every home, enabling us to print documents on the spot which a few decades ago demanded a specialized manufacturer. The same may be happening with the production of many other goods. Today new production technologies („fabbing“) and advanced design software allow average users to produce almost everything – on their own desk. Welcome to the factory in your kitchen.

This session will discuss the upcoming user manufacturing trend, a development that recently is taking shape in larger scope and scale: User manufacturing refers to a public available software, manufacturing, and distribution infrastructure that enables creative users and customers to design, build, and sell own creations to a larger public – without the traditional investments in setting up a business. User manufacturing supplements – or substitutes – mass customization strategies which many companies have implemented. It also may become the most efficient strategy to serve the long tail of variants in many industries.

Consider Spreadshirt, one of the world’s largest producers of graphic t-shirts. This company just allows everyone to create an own assortment of designs, and then sell this assortments in highly targeted retail outlets, online and offline, to a small market segment the user knows best. Thus, Spreadshirt does not have to predict the long tail of heterogeneity of fashion products, but just focuses on allowing users to create and sell this assortment by their own.

User manufacturing is enabled by three main technologies: (1) Easy-to-operate design software that allows users to transfer their ideas into a design. (2) Design repositories where users upload, search, and share designs with other users. This allows a community of loosely connected users to develop a large range of applications. (3) Easy-to-access flexible manufacturing technology. New rapid manufacturing technologies („fabbing“) finally deliver the dream of translating any 3-D data files into physical products — even in you living room. Combining this technology with recent web technologies can open a radical new way to provide custom products along the entire „long tail“ of demand.

User manufacturing builds on the notion that users are not just able to configure a good within the given solution space (mass customization), but also to develop such a solution space by their own and utilize it by producing custom products. As a result, customers are becoming not only co-designers, but also manufacturers, using an infrastructure provided by some specialized companies.

The webinar will discuss recent trends and case examples of the user manufacturing trend. We also will compare the business models of companies which are building on the user manufacturing trend and which implement and operate the underlying infrastructure ´for creative users to become manufacturers.

WebinarPlanned session outline:

– A short review of conventional mass customization thinking

– Which recent trends and developments enhance these strategies and how mass customization is related to “The Long Tail” phenomena

– What is user manufacturing, and which trends does this strategy support?

– What are the components of an infrastructure that supports user manufacturing?

– A review of business models of established companies and recent startups which already successfully benefit from the opportunities of user manufacturing

– A discussion of the major challenges and open issues in this domain

– Session wrap-up: Idea for further action

To register, please go to http://www.pure-insight.com/webinars/mass-customization-next-generation and use promotional code aix (case sensitive!) wenn registering for a 10% discount.

Note: You also can download the webinar after its initial live broadcast – but only when joining live, you can interact and ask direct questions.

All further information can be found here.

Context information

– If you prefer to see the content of this webinar in action, a seminar on Fabbing and User generated Manufacturing in Essen, Germany, provides a great opportunity on Nov 22.

– My earlier posts on user manufacturing

Article in CNN online on the fabbing trend

Article in New Scientist on the fabbing trend

Article in Make magazine on how to use a fabbing device

9 11, 2007

Rethinking Business: Products of tomorrow: Fabbing, personalization & custom manufacturing (Essen, 22. Nov 2007)

By | 2018-05-07T15:31:16+00:00 November 9th, 2007|Customization Trends, Design, Events, Fabbing, Open/User Innovation, Personalization, Technologies & Enablers, User Manufacturing|

RethinkingbusinessnA VERY interesting focused event on the new world of fabbing, laser sintering, user manufacturing, and how to make business with this will take place in Essen (Germany) on Nov 22 afternoon & evening. Hosted by Z-Punkt, an innovative trend consultancy, and taking place in the Zeche Zollverein, a spectacular industrial location, the conference promised to become a real eye-opener and point of discussion.

For more information on the theme, have a look on this previous blog post: I will host a webinar on the same topic of user manufacturing on Nov 29 in case you cannot travel to Essen, Germany, for this event.

For a list of all speakers and the detailed program, please download the event flyer.

The event will be in German language, so all the following announcements are in German language as well.

Erfahren Sie, wie neue Materialien zu Innovationstreibern werden und warum der 3D-Druck das Business revolutioniert. Die Konferenz „Rethinking Business #02. Produkte von morgen“ findet am 22. November 2007 auf der Zeche Zollverein in Essen statt. Themenschwerpunkte: Neue Materialien und individuelle Produktion.

Und noch mehr Informationen zum Thema finden Sie in einen Interview mit Frank Piller auf dem Z-Punkt-Blog.

Drucken wir in ein paar Jahren unser Geschirr jeden Tag frisch aus unserem persönlichen 3D-Drucker aus? Und werden die Fallschirme der Zukunft aus Nano-Spinnfäden gefertigt? Wie neue Materialien die Produktwelt von morgen prägen und welches Innovationspotenzial in einer individualisierten Produktionsweise steckt – das diskutiert Z_punkt im Rahmen der Konferenz „Produkte von morgen“ am 22. November 2007 in der Zollverein School of Management and Design in Essen.

Die zweite Veranstaltung im Rahmen des Konferenzzyklus „Rethinking Business“ setzt den Fokus auf „Neue Materialien und Individuelle Produktion“ – und schlägt dabei die Brücke von der Vision zur Praxis. Der nach dem Open-Source-Modell „fab@home“ für 2.000,- Euro gebaute Prototyp eines einfachen 3D-Druckers geht während der Konferenz live in Produktion und vermittelt den Teilnehmern einen Eindruck von den zukünftigen Möglichkeiten einer Fabrik im Taschenformat: Mit einem für Endkunden erschwinglichen 3D-Printer könnte das Ausdrucken von Alltagsprodukten nämlich bald flächendeckend zu Hause möglich sein.

„Uns beschäftigt im Rahmen der Rethinking-Business-Reihe die Frage, wie die Wirtschaft der Zukunft funktioniert. Dieses Mal interessieren wir uns für die Produktwelt. Wir fragen: Wie sehen die Produkte der Zukunft aus? Wie werden sie entwickelt und hergestellt? Und wie müssen sich Unternehmen aufstellen, um intelligente Materialien und individuelle Produktion als Innovationstreiber zu nutzen“, sagt Andreas Neef, geschäftsführender Gesellschafter von Z_punkt.

Darauf muss die Wirtschaft vorbereitet sein – wie einst beim Siegeszug des Personal Computers. Dr. Matthias Lüken, Produktentwickler bei Henkel, und Dr. Sigurd Buchholz, Technologieexperte bei der Bayer Technology Services GmbH, berichten aus der Industrieperspektive über Anwendungsmöglichkeiten und Innovationspotenziale einer individualisierten Produktionsweise.

Weitere Infos:
Rethinking Business #02. Produkte von morgen

22 Nov 2007, 16:00 – 21:30 Uhr at Zollverein School of Management & Design, Essen


Programm-Flyer und Anmeldung online (Studenten können für nur 50 Euro teilnehmen !)

Info: Silke Schneider (schneider@z-punkt.de)