For the past 250 years, manufacturing was about companies mass-producing things in factories, and people buying them. Costs were largely determined by volume, and unique things were very expensive. But today the rapid democratization of technologies such as 3D printing is transforming manufacturing into something radically different, as companies and people create customized products that are not only reasonably priced, but often more innovative and better for the environment. This fundamental change in the way we make things is bringing radical change to the fields of manufacturing, building, business, transportation, and sustainability—and to society at large.
As concepts like mass-customization, personal manufacturing, and the Maker movement go mainstream, a new set of questions is forming about what this manufacturing transformation really means.