In an ever increasingly technology dependent world, it was only a matter of time before the lines of consumer and creator fused to create something magical. This collision can be seen in recent years and is best illustrated in what has come to be known as the Maker Movement.
What is the Maker Movement?
For those who aren’t aware, the Maker Movement can be summed up by Techopedia as, “a trend in which individuals or groups of individuals create and market products that are recreated and assembled using discarded or broken electronic, plastic, silicon, or virtually any raw material and/or product from a computer-related device.”
This trend has been growing alongside the urge of consumers to take on the do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. No longer are consumers just going to the stores and picking up home décor, household cleaners, or furniture. They are making them. Although it’s not clear what led to the trend, in Mark Hatch’s book The Maker Movement Manifesto he writes, “Making is fundamental to what it means to be human. We must make, create, and express ourselves to feel whole. There is something unique about making physical things. Things we make are like little pieces of us and seem to embody portions of our soul.” There’s something satisfying and empowering when consumers can take charge and create things on their own, with the help of technology of course.
Does It Threaten Corporate America?
Although consumers are crossing the boundaries from customers into creators, this can be seemingly intimidating for manufacturers and companies. If a customer can create their own products, what dependence or need will they have on a company or manufacturer? However, this thought couldn’t be more misguided. Not only does the maker movement foster creativity and interaction with consumers, but it also helps to spur innovation within the industry.
Just like the news media and music industry, the manufacturing industry is seeing the same trend. In the news media, everyone is becoming a journalist as many videos and photos are taken and used by the traditional audience of the past. In the music industry, we have seen listeners and fans go from a passive role to actually becoming creators and fusing music to create new meaning. This has created many issues with copyright laws. As with the examples in other industries, in order to survive, it’s better to embrace the changes rather than fight against them.
Maker Movement is Revolutionary for Manufacturing
The maker movement has been deemed revolutionary, particularly from a manufacturing standpoint. Limor Fried, the founder of AdaFruit, an online maker movement resource believes, “Innovations are giving people the ability to build more and more things at home, but the maker movement doesn’t signify the death of big box stores or retailers like Amazon.”
Rather, Fried believes that customers will continue to buy existing products, but modify or add to the products to make them more practical and useful in their daily lives. Additionally, maker supported technologies, like 3D printers, can help manufacturers.
How Maker Technologies Can Help Businesses
Reducing Development Costs
3D printers can reduce development costs because they reduce the time it takes to create a product prototype. If there is a product a company considers bringing to market, the prototype can be created in a matter of hours rather than months. With the prototype in hand, businesses can see the limitations of the actual product, fix the issues that arise, and waste less time trying to bring a product to market if only to find out that the product does not meet the needs of the consumer.
Products Get to Market Faster
Having products in hand opens the lines of communication and allows for product changes to be implemented quickly rather than taking months to simply create the prototype.
Customization of Products
With a 3D printer, there is a wide opportunity for product customization. It is much easier to make variations to a product as well as customize a product in a matter of hours with the proper three-dimensional model. What may not work for one customer could work for another with a few tweaks to the original model.
Although the maker movement may seem like a threat to the manufacturing industry, it’s actually one of the best things that could have happened. It continually engages customers with your products and promotes innovation and creativity; thus unleashing a revolutionary change within the industry.