Making things that people want. / Feb 4th 2013

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For a little while now I’ve had a feeling of disquiet about the 20th century and the cycle of overconsumption fuelled by mass media and economies of scale of mass manufacturing, and I’ve been fascinated in what the alternatives are and how we explore them. I’ve also been rather obsessed by this image from John Willshire.

For many years now I’ve made model trains. I’ve made them by hand out of brass, plastic and wood, customising existing things where I can, making from scratch where I can’t. I’ve also more recently wanted to make them differently, in collaboration with my sons. My methods and the methods they could cope with are wildly different and I’ve thought a lot about Airfix kits. 

We also last year laser scanned a steam locomotive and 3D printed it. It’s all building up to something, and that something has been forming more over the last month or so. In January we opened a shop selling kits we’ve wanted to make and now have made using 3D printing, we’ve sold a few and that makes us very happy. We also launched a projects and proposals site where people could say what they wanted and get their friends to vote for it. Several new projects have emerged and there’s one which seems to have some critical mass. Today we can share another step, a Kickstarter campaign to make that project happen, the link is here.

We’re on a journey to test out this lovely phrase from John. We’re convinced that a combination of crowdsourcing/crowdfunding/micro manufacture through additive manufacture gives an interesting counterpoint to product development. We have no idea where it will all end up, and that feels good.

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