Previously on ProjectPerko: the problem of 3D printing. This week's episode: Makerbot makes a move!
I think this is a good first step. At first, I was a little derogatory: they're essentially manufacturing need for manufacturing when there isn't really any. But after a moment, I became more positive.
There is no need for "crowdsourced manufacturing" or even its superset brother "minifacturing". As I said, there's simply no particular interest among the public for being able to build small numbers of a huge variety of things. Most people are happy to buy one of a billion manufactured, non-customized objects for a fraction of the price.
However, I do not think this disproves the concept of minifacturing. The idea of manufacturing things in your basement seems outlandish and unreasonable, but so does having your own personal computer. I can't imagine any reason anybody would need their own home computer.
So I do think that minifacturing has a tremendous future. I don't see it exactly, but I see its shadow, in the same way that you could see the shadow of the internet on the first personal computers.
And I think that manufacturing a need is, for the moment, not a bad idea. Sure, it's just a shadow of real demand... but these sorts of things might help shape a real demand. And once that happens, maybe things will change.
Personally, I still think that minifacturing's breakthrough probably lies mostly in guerrilla home-improvement: minifacturing solar panels, water purifiers, etc. But I wouldn't bet one way or another. Shadows are notoriously hard to interpret.
Join us again next time, same print-time, same print-channel.