Open source, 3D printing and the race to re-engineer manufacturing

While we’re all arguing about the future of Australian manufacturing in the wake of Ford announcing the closure of their Australian factories, the entire manufacturing industry is facing another wave of massive change as 3D printing and open source hardware change the economics of the sector.

Chinese business website Caixin Online has a great video on China’s Open Source Hardware Movement, an area that promises to change the manufacturing industry.

Open Source is the philosophy of sharing intellectual property and allowing anyone to improve the idea on the proviso they share their changes with the rest of the world.

The hope is that open sourced products end up being more reliable than proprietary designs due to scrutiny from hundreds, or thousands, of reviewers.

Until recently, open source has been largely restricted to the software world but now it’s moving into broader Engineering and manufacturing circles.

As the Caixin video shows, the open source hardware movement is introducing geeks to a tool which many thought was dead – the soldering iron.

I noticed this a week or so ago when I walked into a co-working space and found the lady I was meeting hunched over a soldering iron putting together a part for a quadcopter.

Right now, soldering parts to build quadcopters or game controllers is just the beginning; the really interesting things start when open source meets 3D printing – then we’ll see some real game changing things happen.

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