On Manufacturing 2.0
Silicon Valley can be a very different place once you live there compared to how it is represented in business magazines. One thing for sure, though, is that it is a great place to learn. On any day, there are hundreds of meetups, workshops, ad hoc lessons given at coworking places, and conferences. Most associations, in addition to networking events, sponsor panels and discussion groups that target specific topics.
Here are some notes from a panel discussion on “Manufacturing 2.0” organized by Keizai Silicon Valley, a professional networking group for developing US-Japan business opportunities.
What’s different about the current manufacturing landscape, “Manufacturing 2.0” compared to the traditional model, trends and what’s around the corner:
- More opportunities for customization via smaller batches (“millions of me vs. millions of eaches”)
- “Think, make, market, & pray” model no longer works
- Bits move fast, and atoms are same everywhere, so sending instructions and specs can be downloaded for you to self-manufacture via 3-D printing and other technologies now more accessible to the public and businesses (“Make it yourself” movement)
- Incorporation of the arts and design into the engineering process (STEM vs. STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, plus the Arts)
- Further incorporation of robotics into the manufacturing process but also robotics outside of factories (see #3, make your own robot kits, etc.)
- Technological advances in the raw materials (e.g., strength of silicon, heat-sensitive materials that provide 4th dimension to the 3-D printing process)
- Crowdfunding to test out the market, feasibility, and features, for rapid iterations in design, where we now have stores for what’s possible as a product vs. stores for already existing products
- The financial model for companies to count on big items that used to be cash cows at consumer shows, no longer works
- Rise of hybrid manufacturing, where 3-D printing is part of it (e.g., 3-D printed objects then treated with traditional lacquering, special coating)
- Different expectations for quality? The product can be considered perpetually in beta for crowdfunded items
The group identified 3 challenges as a result of the above:
- Better tools for collaboration (we need to see more innovations like Slack)
- Develop a model for how to address quality assurance in smaller batches and customized products
- Consistently pose the question “what to make” vs. merely “how to make” as the manufacturing process become cheaper and more accessible.
Photo: Stanford Museum, Palo Alto, California