The Maker Movement
It is within our human nature to create. It is evident that humans have been wired to be creators since the invention of the first basic tools for hunting and survival. Fast forward to modern day where creators and DIY enthusiasts are now called ‘makers’ and are the reason behind the emergence of the ‘Maker Movement’.
The maker movement is a blanket term for a niche group of inventors, traditional artisans and designers, in other words: makers. The movement averts from falling into the consumerism of mass-produced and generic merchandise which -let’s face it- is probably made in China.
Makers, or Kitchen Table Industrialists as The New York Times calls them, are passionate hobbyists who use their underutilised talent to produce robots, smart gadgets and wearable devices using the latest fabrication tools such as 3D printers.
Maker Movement Workspace
These creators mostly work in home garages and collaborative workspaces otherwise known as makerspaces where they brainstorm ideas, share skills and supplies and collaborate together on projects. The most well-known community spaces that offer high-end manufacturing equipment are FabLab and Techshop based in different countries around the world for accessibility.
The maker community and DIY culture are enhanced by a variety of platforms where makers can sell their created products. Websites such as Etsy, eBay and Craigslist have become makers’ window to establishing their own home businesses.
The movement also resulted in the creation of one of the biggest maker event: Maker Faire. The bazaar is hosted to provide a platform for makers of arts, crafts, engineering and science projects around the world and has caught the attention of major players in the corporate world such as NASA, Ford, Nvidia, 3D Robotics and many more. These Maker Faires are seen as being very important to fostering innovation, technical skills and entrepreneurship.
Internet of Things ( IoT )
Makers are also contributing to the Internet of Things (IoT) , which is a world of interconnected devices that use sensors to interact with surrounding environments, people and other devices. Advances in 3D printing and low-cost microcontrollers enable makers to bridge software with the physical world, adding functionality into an unlimited number of new and existing devices.
Major companies have joined in on the conversation and have started providing makers with makerspaces in order to capture their creative energy and to enable the public to be part of the product development process.
GE for instance, recently launched FirstBuild – a physical and online platform that aims to engage entrepreneurs, students and makers whether they are engineers, designers or artists to co-create home appliances and participate in the development of home ware that consumers actually want.
Additive Manufacturing Support
It should be acknowledged that additive manufacturing is a key player in the maker movement as a result of the drop in cost of tools such as 3D printers and some other digital fabrication tools such as DIY CNC milling machines and laser cutters, along with the availability of open- source and user friendly physical computing platforms like Arduino and Raspberry Pi boards.
Power of Online Tools
Moreover, the emergence of user-friendly tools, the readiness of open-source hardware and the interconnectivity and openness of the maker community within the world of 3D hobbyists enhance the makers’ DIY experience. Websites such as Youmagine, Thingiverse and MyMiniFactory where people can share their 3D printable designs, modify other users’ designs, and exchange expertise.
Not to mention the extensive repository of resources available to help do-it-yourselfers on the web such as Makazine, how-to videos, articles and podcasts which have made it easier for makers to combine open-source learning with self-reliance and make anything they want themselves – making their maker journey all the more enjoyable.
Suffice to say that the real power of the maker movement lies in the revolutionary availability of technology and open-resources, which together have rapidly transformed users from mere service consumers to active makers.