Another interesting post from Derek Singleton on the Software Advice website discussing the next manufacturing revolution - and how it's driven by individuals not corporations. For me, the most interesting part was his list of enabling technologies to help this revolution:
- Crowdsourcing – Crowdsourcing is an approach to idea generation and product development, not a technology. However, there’s a variety of tech resources available that enable crowdsourcing for any kind of project; check out Open Innovation for a great list.
- CAD Software – 2D and 3D designs created with CAD software can be saved in a sharable file format before production. You can access professional-grade CAD software on a subscription basis for $19.95/month from Local Motors.
- 3D Printing – 3D printers are rapidly decreasing in price, making it affordable to create a prototype model of a CAD design. Some 3D printers are already powerful enough to make small numbers of finished items. As this technology advances, the hope is that individuals will be able to produce larger batches of finished products.
- Manufacturing-as-a-Service – Manufacturing is following software’s lead and becoming an on-demand service. Online manufacturing directories like Alibaba and ThomasNet can connect you with a manufacturer that will build for you so you don’t have to invest in any equipment.
- Cloud Computing – The Cloud isn’t a manufacturing-specific technology but it deserves a mention because of how cost-effective it makes running a product business. Cloud solutions like NetSuite and Plex provide affordable solutions for managing orders, inventory, accounting and other business functions.
- E-commerce – Of course, the Internet is a critical enabler for any business these days. Sites like eBay, Amazon, or your own e-commerce website, make it easy for customers to find and buy from you. If you’re interested in running your own e-commerce site, you should check out Volusion and BigCommerce.