The advent of cloud manufacturing

cloud manufacturing

Cloud this, cloud that…”cloud” was one of the biggest buzzwords of 2012. Well, that and 3D printing. Now, in this TEDx Talk, they speaker shows how they have merged into “Cloud Manufacturing.”

At the University of Vermont last year, writer, analyst, veteran marketer and innovation strategist Mebla Kurman discusses the new concept of Cloud Manufacturing. She says that the 3D printer is a “novel new machine that has been around for a couple decades, however it’s advancing. This small manufacturing machine is going to change manufacturing. It’s going to help manufacturing evolve into a new model. This radical manufacturing machine is going to change the paradigm of mass manufacturing, to one that’s decentralized, built upon an foundation of an ultra-large network made up of small manufacturing nodes. I call [this] Cloud Manufacturing. Like billions of cell phones, we will have millions of small autonomous nodes of production.”

Yes, we democratized music, movies, writing…why not manufacturing? Power to the people in everything humans can create.

How is this happening? Kurman says that 3D printers are getting cheaper and cheaper, and “the technology is rapidly improving, even on the low-end machines, and the design software and the computing power, together, are enabling people to design and fabricate things in small batches, in radical new shapes and sizes, and in new ways. 3D printers are moving from, large firms, who once [only] could afford them, into small businesses. schools and homes.[sic]”

Yes, these “small machines” will change the future of manufacturing. They are decentralized, versatile, on demand, fueling innovation with lower barriers to entry. Before 3D printers, the high-risk, high-cost wall impeded people from innovating. Not any more — makers can now be playful with their ideas and come up with things that would never have seen the light of day before.