Making Over Manufacturing: From Mechanization to Makers’ Spaces (Part 1)

Making over manufacturing: from mechanization to makers’ spaces;
A modern day Renaissance Part 1

By Brett Marlo DeSantis

We are living in amazing times! In this modern day Renaissance, we are in the process of shaping the future of human civilization.

From water-wheels to clocks to the steam engine, humans continued to work toward improving the design of machines. Over centuries, mechanization slowly evolved until the Industrial revolution arrived with the burgeoning of self-acting machine tools fueled by coal, oil and gas.

The opportunities and challenges of our times stem from those advances. Today, we add even more ingredients into the mix: a slew of technological advances, emerging transparency in products and processes, as well as the availability to effectively harness clean forms of energy.

Boom! Enter the age of our modern makers– taking the best of human progress and literally retooling it.

The right mix of inspiration, opportunity, accessible tools and disdain for current practices are at the core of the modern maker. Today’s makers are today’s inventors. They are curious, creative and resourceful innovators; photographers, knitters, hackers, painters, woodworkers, graphic designers, artists, builders, engineers, programmers, bakers, musicians…you name it.

Once considered a counterculture or subculture movement, makers are now evolving and transforming our accepted manufacturing processes, our economy and therefore designing the future. Some of these entrepreneurial self-starters are even taking on the big retailers!

The Maker Movement is, according to Adweek, an umbrella term for the independent inventors, designers and tinkerers in search of self-reliance, employing open-source learning and contemporary techniques on a local level. ͞The creations, born in cluttered local workshops and bedroom offices, stir the imaginations of consumers numbed by generic, mass-produced,
made-in-China merchandise.

A maker brings back old-school approaches with a newly found pragmatism; local, adaptive, realistic solutions that weave today’s technological advances with real skills and craft. They address real world problems. From homebrew computer labs to building tech gadgets with 3D printers to local gardeners canning homegrown veggies to furniture makers using 3-D carving machines.

Makers’ spaces may be as diverse as the passions they embrace. It’s not the tools that define the space; it’s what the space enables—the ability to make!

Spaces might be as small as repurposed book carts filled with building blocks, donated craft supplies and recycling container collections. Or they may be large dedicated areas with crammed full of old-school tools all the way to spacious full-on techno-labs.

Many makerspaces host classes ranging from home economics to science and programming courses. Informal, playful and wonder-driven, the most important commonality of the maker space is to encourage creativity and support the learning process that unfolds.

What began as an evolution over a decade ago, we may soon come to realize as a revolution.

This revolution is world-wide, growing rapidly and is expected to disrupt the economy as we know it today. A modern day Renaissance, maker culture is a response to mass-produced products and a call to action to all members of society no matter what walk of life. It is a fully
accessible, intergenerational culture that engages, even drives, positive changes in our communities.

Part 2 will discuss the maker philosophy and the impacts of this movement.