“Everyone knows when you’re making something you don’t want to pay retail for parts,” Anderson said during Thursday’s kickoff of the Confluence meeting at the DeSoto Theatre in downtown Rome.
Anderson instead got online, designed the motors he wanted, and with the click of a button got them manufactured in China at 40 cents apiece. He ordered 5,000 of them.
That, Anderson said, is an example of the latest revolution, which he called desktop manufacturing.
“Just know that I got robots in China to manufacture something for me, and I paid with PayPal,” Anderson said.
That process has changed and will change manufacturing across the globe, said Anderson, author of “Makers: The New Industrial Revolution.”
The former editor of “Wired” magazine was the keynote speaker for the event.
He brings a personal touch to his tale. He told the story of his grandfather Fred Hauser, a Swiss immigrant who invented the automatic lawn sprinkler system.
His grandfather came up with the design, got it patented and then sold the rights to a manufacturer. That, Anderson said, was the most common model used in the manufacturing process.
But, Anderson pointed out, once the manufacturer had the patent, they no longer had any need for his grandfather.
He also related the story of his daughters, who used a three-dimensional printer to make their own furniture for their doll house. They were finding it difficult, if not impossible, to find the right style of doll furniture at the right scale.
They instead made their own, with the help of a three-dimensional printer, and learned a valuable lesson. “What they learned is they now have the means of production,” Anderson said.
The beauty of the scenario should be obvious to any manufacturer.
Instead of a world where creation and design may be separated from the manufacturing process by thousands of miles, groundbreaking software and online networking can close that gap, creating a quicker and shorter supply chain.