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By FluxIt ·
Some 22 years ago I wrote a 50 page paper on computer integrated manufacturing, CIM. In that paper I discussed AI, MRP, DRP, ERP, Technical doumentation, CAPP, CAD/CAM etc... The focus was on massive manufacturing facilities and streamlining of the operations. Little did I think about the micronization of circuits let alone the minaturization of business operations.

An emerging industry is desktop fabrication. Numerous products are already available to setup a shop that include CNC lathes, milling, drilling, laser cutting, and other manufacturing operations. The vision is for mobile manufacturing and garage fabrication. These home based manufacturing units will take advantage of the internet and logistical networks. They will buy virtual services such as accounting, marketing/sales, customer service, legal, engineering, and human resources that may be outsourced to places like India.

What was once a large organization is now quickly becoming a geographically dispersed virtual business and utter destruction of the cubical farm or Corporate America as it once was.

The vision is staggering for United States citizens who once had highly stable jobs, retirements, and outrageous health care benefits. Now they must fend for themselves establishing businesses. Its oddly a return to a 2000 year old economy where people go to market, compete, and revenue is based on a persons ability to end a conversation with an exclamation point!

Or is it a return to an older way? Will people conduct face-to-face dialogues? will they be forced to develop conversation skills once again? Or will the internet mask people? Will human centric devices increase the distance between people? Is this desktop revolution going to be a boon or bust for the United States?

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Maybe a Kinkos approach

by gralfus In reply to DESKTOP FABRICATION A BOO ...

I doubt that many people would be able to afford the equipment for doing this kind of work, so perhaps a Kinkos-like establishment that contracts computer based machining. The other issue is zoning as commercial versus residential, and having to buy or lease property for this purpose. A Kinkos-like place could do this, where an average joe would lack the means. But the entrepreneurial approach is going to become a necessity for many.

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by FluxIt In reply to Maybe a Kinkos approach

The cost of the equipment is not that much compared to the full scale equipment cost. A complete desktop fabrication bench could be built for the cost of a small truck.

I think the zoning laws and home business laws are going to be modified to accommodate these kinds of companies. Most of them would probably sprout up in rural areas and small towns anyhow. We have been seeing this kind of trend for the last 10 years.

The fascinating point is that this is being done with PC's and opens a large new arena for creativity, innovation, and invention. Will the future Bell lab be in some guys garage?

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Movies on demand - the end of civilization?

by amcol In reply to DESKTOP FABRICATION A BOO ...

Sometime late in the nineteenth century the ability to film and replay moving images was invented. Within just a few short decades an entire entertainment industry sprang up. Technological advances abounded, and pretty soon integrated sound was added. People went to movie theaters during the dark days of the Depression and World War II, seeking release from the rigor of their sad lives. Still they demanded more, and colorized film came about.

Then, sometime in the waning moments of the twentieth century, the video recorder made its debut. No longer did people need to go to movie houses to see their heroes on the silver screen; they simply went to their local BlockBuster and rented whatever they wanted. Social interaction and civilized behavior suffered as a consequence.

Still, the people were not satisfied. "Save us the trouble of going to the store!" they cried. And their lamentations were heard...Pay Per View, a service in which one could download a movie directly to one's own TV. The people rejoiced.

Then, one day, a voice was heard amidst the din of laughter and cheering as everyone stayed home on Saturday nights and ordered in pepperoni pizzas. "There's not enough choice!" said the voice. "We don't want to order only what the cable and satellite companies offer...we want to be able to download anything, anytime!".

And science responded. As the twenty first century wore on new services arose, in which the people could just call up a menu of movie choices numbering in the thousands and download them. Westerns, dramas, comedies, romance, pornography, historical was all there, a cornucopia of video pleasure.

But all this choice came with a price. No one went out anymore. No one interacted with their neighbors, their friends, their families. The news media went out of one had any interest in the news any longer. The entire restaurant industry ceased to exist. All the major telecommunications providers cut their service so as to be able to supply video signals only, since that was the only bandwidth people wanted anyway. Satellites, abandoned in their geosynchronous orbits, came crashing to Earth. Governments were unable to communicate with each other, and as a result an Italian airliner flying over Newark was mistaken for an incoming missile strike and the US launched a nuclear retaliatory attack against China. Western civilization as we know it....ceased to exist.

You think maybe you're taking yourself a little too seriously with your "staggering" visions of apocalypse, all because of a little technological advance? Jeessshh.

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by FluxIt In reply to Movies on demand - the en ...

Posting and interesting perspective. I do not recall a staggering vision of apocalpse I advanced. Anyhow, this desktop fabrication thing is sort of sneaking up on people. Its a business opportunity.

There are a handful of books on it and some articles. Perhaps manufacturing will not be leaving the US. Only its face will change. It would not call it a staggering a vision but rather a fascinating future.

By the way, do you have anything better to do than blast my posting?

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Let's review

by amcol In reply to HUMOROUS

"What was once a large organization is now quickly becoming a geographically dispersed virtual business and utter destruction of the cubical farm or Corporate America as it once was.

The vision is staggering for United States citizens who once had highly stable jobs, retirements, and outrageous health care benefits."

Your words.

Sure, I have plenty better to do than blast you or anyone else. But it was late and I'd had a couple of beers, and there's nothing I love better than to poke holes in pomposity. You presented such a tempting target I just couldn't help myself.

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by FluxIt In reply to Let's review

Websters: 'Characterized by excessive self-esteem, exaggerated dignity, or stately display; ceremonious, pretentious'

There was nothing pompous about those observations I made. However, your response is quite pompous.

People who once sat in a cubical in a large room working in a department for a company are now outsourced and those cubicals are going away. The structure of companies are now more logistical and networked with call centers in India, research departments in China, with legal, accounting, and marketing outsourced to small businesses. So goes core aspects of the business now too.

I can envision dozens of garage based fabrication plants making products sold to local stores. soft drink manufacturers have had this model for some time.

The interesting thing is that design, engineering, and production of low tech things is now easily in the reach of millions of people.

While we have seen this kind of trend for nearly 2 decades - it is increasing in speed and capability exponentially. I am not confident that education and common intelligence is moving that quick. Innovation is leaving the US as educators are dumbing our people since they are more attuned to political ideologies than the advancement of knowledge, creativity, and the human mind.

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Home-Based Manufacturing Is The Future

by zdavidson In reply to POMPOUS?

I saw your post about manufacturing from a garage. I agree with your point of view and think you're right on. I started my own company in a small office-warehouse and am working on equipment designed specifically for this purpose. I know there are many people with good ideas and the desire to make things themselves, and small business are popping up everywhere. I enjoyed your article and if you wish I would like to discuss the future.

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