Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Personal Manufacturing

Manufacture whatever products you want
  (+7, -2)
(+7, -2)
  [vote for,

Manufacturing things usually involves using computers and large machinery. Due to the large expense of owning and operating this machinery, it is currently only practical to create products that lots of people kind of want (meaning want enough to buy). But many people have products that only they want (and they usually really want these), but no one else does, so they don't come into existence. This has led to a fairly homogeneous society where the things you buy in a store don't vary that much, because you can only buy popular things.

My idea is for a company to set up a milling/manufacturing machine that is open to the public to manufacture their own custom things. People could pay a fee to submit their "program" (which they would draw in a CAD program, which are constantly becoming easier to use) and have the object made.

I envision a society where, instead of buying already-made things in stores, you download CAD specifications from the internet (some of which would cost money, other of which people would release into the public domain), then send it to get the thing made. You could download customizable objects (e.g. shoes which you can adjust to your size), or download parts of objects ("libraries" in software terms) which you could combine into more complex products.

There may already be companies who would do this, but I doubt it would be at all practical for members of the public, as they would probably be targetting other businesses.

orlandu, Jun 12 2005

eMachineShop http://www.emachineshop.com/
I think this may be what orlandu wants. [half, Jun 12 2005]

RepRap: short for Replicating Rapid-Prototyper http://staff.bath.ac.uk/ensab/replicator/
The DIY version? [half, Jun 12 2005]


       I have seen a company that can make you a CNC-machined piece from your CAD drawing.   

       However, I envision a nice white plastic covered device to sit on the counter, for producing small items in the kitchen, like a George Foreman grill. A larger machine could live in the garage, for producing car parts, gardening tools and brackets for shelving, etc.   

       A neighborhood could go in on a huge warehouse and commercial CNC machine for more elaborate multi-axis cuttings, making playground equipment, etc. It would be supplemented with a forge, or any other machinery needed.
moPuddin, Jun 12 2005

       The worst that could happen here (via flexible manufacturing) is that art advances personal effectiveness, in much the same way that marquetry (burning images into wood) advanced engineering, when users gain appreciation of scale and proportion.
reensure, Jun 12 2005

       Desktop manufacturing is becoming a reality.
bristolz, Jun 12 2005

       You can do this with books--see lulu.com.
ldischler, Jun 12 2005

       Whoa, so it does already exist! (the eMachineShop link). Who would have thought? I wonder whether their pricing is reasonable?
orlandu, Jun 12 2005

redsimple, Jan 30 2006


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