Every now and then the future plonks itself on your desk or doormat in a way you can’t ignore it. That happened recently when some items I’d found on Shapeways arrived. It made me think how services such as Shapeways change the possibilities of hobbies and of small cottage industries alike.
It is the essence of digital extended into the physical world and it brings with it that sense of possibility that the time cost of making one thing is the same as making many, something which is less true in the purely physical world. Things you make for your hobby can now be easily made available/sold to other people who may want the same things.
At Activate, Matt Webb kicked off with this slide. It resonated with some thoughts I’d been having about why we often buy things, albeit probably obliquely. We often buy things as we hope they’re the things that will “do” in the absence of the availability of the thing we really desire. As compromises they often don’t work out so well and the cycle begins again.
3D printing alters this. It lowers barriers to effective manufacture. Instead of paying someone to make a bespoke thing we’re unable to make ourselves we can commission someone to model it and we now have the potential to make many of them, some we could even sell to recoup the cost of paying someone to model it. The resolution is in some ways imperfect now, but it won’t always be so.
At the end of Matt’s talk he spoke about 100 hours projects and it was apparent that what I’d been starting to ponder and even started to work on a bit was one. What it was was a 100 hours project which didn’t yet have an absolute aim.
So here’s the aim: I’m going to research and then learn how to make and market physical products. I may do some, none or all of the making, but through it I hope I’ll create something that some people in a small niche think is cool (and come to an understanding of the possibilities of new materials, new methodologies and new supply chains).