Creativity is probably the most innate and fundamental feature of life. And life – to continue – needs creativity. We create other human beings. We create things and we constantly try to improve them.
And this is the spirit of the ‘makers’ – they love making things.
THE MAKERS MOVEMENT
Making things has recently become a movement in various countries and a crusade that may be a modern iteration of the Industrial Revolution. A growing number of people around the world are driving consumer, social and economic change that is impinging on established business models in manufacturing and technology.
MEET A MAKER MANIAC
To explore this phenomenon, I had a conversation with Massimo Temporelli. Massimo is a physicist, and a historian of technology.
ws What is the difference between the makers phenomenon and simply having a hobby and building a bookshelf or knitting a scarf at home?
mt What is happening reminds me of what happened with computers. Back in the 1970s, only a few people, whom we called geeks, had access to and could handle computers. They were really hackers who were taking computers apart to see what else could be done with them, aside from boring calculations. Now computers are everywhere, and nearly everyone interacts with them on a daily basis, whether it’s a mobile phone or a computer at work. Just as hackers paved the way to personal computing, makers are now building the foundation for digital fabrication, a system allowing more and more people to make things for themselves.
ws What are these “things,” and why are 3D printers are important?
mt Consider objects that we use every day, like a cup, a glass, a pen. 3D printing represents a milestone for this process. Take, for example, a sunglasses designer. You may get bored with the frame you have and want a new frame for the summer. With 3D, you will use the designer website to purchase and download the design in the form of a 3D printing instruction file for your 3D printer, and print the frame at home. This will clearly revolutionize the current business model in terms of business cycle, distribution, stock, and so on, which will result in a much lower cost for the consumer.
ws Are we talking about another Industrial Revolution?
mt The real revolution will begin with distribution. Simply imagine what impact this could have on raw materials, industrial stock, transport, and energy. Skipping and partly decentralizing these processes will have immense repercussions.
ws Will I still go to stores to buy food and clothing?
mt Yes. At the moment it is hard to know what will happen to certain consumer items, but there are some experiments currently underway with food items, and there are already certain shoes that can be printed.
ws What materials are available for printing now?
mt Nylon and ABS wood which is a paste of wood. But there will be more materials available in the future, and the cost of 3D printers will go down, as usual in these cases.
ws The Internet has also allowed sale and distribution of rare or “restricted” items, like rare books, stamps, drugs and sex toys. Do you think that 3D printing will contribute to this as well?
mt makerlove.com is a site offering downloadable innovative designs for sex toys. One can then print them at home, avoiding the possible embarrassment of buying these items in a sex shop.
ws Instant pleasure?
mt The immediate access to an item is very attractive, as with downloadable music or film. You listen to a song, you like it and you can have it immediately. This will happen for more and more goods.
ws And the world of work? How will it change?
mt Initially there will be three areas affected. A designer or architect will print prototypes himself, saving time and closely monitoring the final design. Then a new kind of professional consulting will be needed, as with the Internet, to advise companies in adapting to these business changes. Finally, electricians, plumbers, and other traditional artisans will be able to recycle their old skills, developing new products and new skills to bring new technologies to our lives and our homes, such as intelligent heating or water management systems.
Published in the hard-copy of Work Style Magazine, Fall 2013