Personal fabrication and how it will impact ID

In your analogy to mp3’s only a small percentage of users chop the files up and mix custom music, and little of that cutting, editing, mixing and mashing, would be seen as original new music, and the general public has tired pretty quickly of mash ups.

Well, I wasn’t really talking about users manipulating the files to create new music, (which I agree is limited to a very small percentage), more that the iTunes distribution model has a lot less associated costs than the traditional LP/CD model. And that digital files are far easier to share, whether legally or illicitly, than physical products.

A lot of great products never see the light of day because they are too much of a risk to bring to market. Consumer fabrication through downloads will allow professional designer to bring beter designed products to all consumers without having to go through the filters of development and marketing.

This is a really good point. Part of the reason why these products are seen as risks is because mass production tooling requires them to be manufactured in large quantities in order to get a return on the investment. In the kind of scenario you outline, the upfront costs are much lower, which would hopefully mean a manufacturer would be more willing to take risks.

this would be a great way to identify design potential. A small percentage of users will actively pursue and perfect this. Amateur designers who may not have been given a shot will rise above the masses of poorly customized products and can be identified, trained and brought into the fold.

This is what games companies do a lot. It’s quite common for them to hire people who have proved their talent by creating innovative or popular mods. What’s also interesting is that games companies have (with a few exceptions) encouraged the modding community, they even release development kits to make it easier (whilst protecting the code that defines the ‘core’ of the game). Part of my research is looking at whether this is a model that can be transferred to the manufacture of physical products, products which have some elements that can be modified or redesigned and other elements which are ‘fixed’. That’s what I mean by saying in future part of the industrial designer’s role will be defining the parameters within which customisation can take place.

Just to make it clear, I’m in no way saying that all consumers are going to be interested in, or capable of, designing products. What I think will happen though is that people ‘outside’ a company or brand will get involved in that brand’s design process. Other people might like the ‘outsider’s’ designs more than the officially sanctioned ones. And the way that brands react to this will be really interesting.

The consumer downloads the file he or she likes for a fee and prints the 3d parts.

lets hope what ever material used is something which is low energy and be reused…like it mini machine would have a mini recycling grinder. Otherwise you could see an awful lot of waste being produced. Again take the analogy of the printer and the so called paperless office…at least paper can be broken down relatively easily

I understand the sentiment of where you are coming from. Creativity is not something that is restricted to the profession of industrial design. With the advent of Illustrator, Quark and even Microsoft Word, typesetters were completely eliminated as a profession. Draftsmen have disappeared with the advent of CAD 2D and 3D. Essentially this means that if you are involved in any kind of work that is automated and repeated then your job is in danger, and waay before personal RP came to prominence it would be outsourced to China, Vietnam and whatever nation is racing to the bottom of factory prices.

If you look at digital photography and desk-top publishing the pattern is that drudge work gets computerized and automated. More people and taking better photographs and creating documents. Good photographers are still more in demand than ever- but professionals who were just getting by are unlikely to get more work.

So more people come to the table and the cost of entry to product development decreases. Honestly I think that means more work for product designers. Think about it. The design tools would be the same. It is the manufacturing that shifts to the consumer. You know who that affects? China and Vietnam. Meanwhile the factories have shifted to the consumers and they need someone to design the products that get output on those personal RP machines.

So if trends in publishing hold true- yes we all have desktop printers but did that in any way affect graphic designers? Not really -there are more graphics designers than ever.

So I am not really concerned about personal RP. I welcome personal RP-more work for me. But Lord help the environment. At least the paper that gets fed into printers can be created from renewable resources. If the paperless office gives us any clue the factory-less factory will likely be consuming exponentially more plastic/oil on crap printouts.

what does a pro bring to the table that “amatures” do not, insight and the ability to move from market to market. The model stated for games is unworkable, as most games target a very narrow market space, and the developers are among that market space. Even with the insight that being a part of that enviroment provides, many many games never quite “make it”. The rapid protoyping machine in many ways is no different than the hot glue gun, it allows crafters to excercise their wimsy and their perspective, some of wich is good, most horrid.

Years ago (1990) it was invisioned that their would be a huge upsurge of new writers and directors because of the availablity of so many easy software tools and distrubution avenues. This did happen, as can be seen by Utube and zillions of blogs, but truthfully has any of it produced a hemmingway or a john ford? The truth of it is simple, real talent it quite rare, takes a lot of work to develop the skills, insight, and experiance to produce something that others LOTS of other feel has value. The rest, like crafters are sastifing to that person or small group but in the end have no real connection to the world at large.

What will a “RP in every pot” bring, just more temporary stuff, something we have all too much of now. If you have talent, you will find, build, buy, the tools and money needed to excercise your vision because for you its a driving force, not a past time or a whimsy.

There is a old saying “a craftman is not limited by his tool’s, only his vision” its quite true, and RP is just a tool.

out.

Myspace is a perfect example of what happens when you put design into the hands of everyone. A huge percentage of the pages on myspace are unusable/unreadable. Personal fabrication will be no different… on balance… a big, ugly mess.

ho ho great example…jackob Nielson wrote an article about social websites not being very usable.

So if trends in publishing hold true- yes we all have desktop printers but did that in any way affect graphic designers? Not really -there are more graphics designers than ever.

Yes, absolutely. I think anyone who claims industrial designers will die out is wrong, but the nature of ID will change. Digital technologies mean that the cost of getting something into print is much lower for anyone that knows how to do it. Web design is a genre that few people even imagined 20 years ago.

The model stated for games is unworkable, as most games target a very narrow market space

The Sims sold 50 million copies (70 million if you include the expansions), 60% of sales were to female gamers. The Sims as a franchise has sold 100 million copies, but that’s still behind Mario (200 million) and Pokemon (175 million). Wikipedia lists 694 games that have sold more than 1 million copies (admittedly some of these are the same game on different platforms). Games such as Nintendogs and Brain Age, the Wii, online gambling and Second Life all show that even if what you say is true, it’s unlikely to be in future.

Your statement also assumes a mass manufacturing mentality, where the key to success is selling a lot of the same thing to a broad demographic. Mass customisation is already showing this does not have to be the case. Rapid manufacturing, if it ever takes off, can target even smaller niches because it doesn’t require the investment in tooling. What can be made depends less on access to the means of production, and more on the number of designers that can successfully create products people are willing to buy. Depending on the value of your design to the people who pay for it, it might be that a production run of 50 is profitable. I think this directly ties in with MasterBlaster’s statement above - there will be more industrial designers than ever.

Years ago (1990) it was invisioned that their would be a huge upsurge of new writers and directors because of the availablity of so many easy software tools and distrubution avenues. This did happen, as can be seen by Utube and zillions of blogs, but truthfully has any of it produced a hemmingway or a john ford?

Quentin Tarantino, Michael Moore, Robert Rodriguez, Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry, Morgan Spurlock, Richard Linklater. All of them started out using new digital technologies and new distribution methods (outside of the conventional movie system). No, they didn’t put their work on YouTube, but then that’s not what YouTube seems to be for (even if they would like it to be). Doubtless when motion pictures had just been invented there were theatre and opera fans claiming film hadn’t yet produced a Shakespeare or a Verdi.

Myspace is a perfect example of what happens when you put design into the hands of everyone. A huge percentage of the pages on myspace are unusable/unreadable. Personal fabrication will be no different… on balance… a big, ugly mess.

In your view (in mine too actually) most MySpace pages might be a mess. That’s not the point; the point is that more than 100 million people have created their own pages, or used templates made by others who generally aren’t professional designers. This is what I meant when I said originally that this kind of customisation will happen whether designers like it or not. We may not like the design of a MySpace user’s page, but does that user care?

And how can something with 100 million users be unusable? Quite obviously it is being used. Might not follow any good design or usability guidelines, but that’s a different issue.

I don’t disagree with you at all. The democratization of design is good for everyone. 25 years ago, I never could have done the things I do with music as little more than a hobbyist and I truly appreciate that. My point is that, in addressing the original question, myspace is an example that demonstrates why web designers need not fear for their jobs and, by extension, neither should the industrial designers. We are certainly in a time where more people think they can, and have the resources to, try to do it, but serious individuals and corporations recognize the value of someone who actually knows what they are doing or has a clear knack for it.

The true purpose of myspace – A social networking site – is frequently lost on the backs of poorly designed home pages. Even if the indiuvidual loves their clown-vomit home page, how many friends check up on them less because their page crashes or is hard to read? Could this be a drag on the long term growth of myspace when compared to facebook? And, regarding 100 million users… how many of those are spammers I wonder? :slight_smile:

ahhh have heard this before (done it myself) you have created the “koolaid” and now have drunk it yourself. :laughing: On the movie example, whats the % there doc? under .01% of wanna bee’s that became noted directors.

On websites, designs, yes a large % of people have some form of a personal page, most are crap, a large % of them go forgoten and un updated when a peson gets over about 25 as prioites change. As to size, hummm let me think “100 million users” that would be great if any of them were paying users…free is allways popular.

On the old model, for your model to hold up (total on site production) your in effect taking uber end nano tech. With out the ability to “print” transistors, resistors, caps, condutors, engineering materials, metals, and ceramics your home sla machine only does static (plates, cups, lampshades) its going to require some real production mfg behind it someplace.

It comes down to this, 75% ±% of people are herd beasts, and buy what others in their social groups have/want (a noted phy experiment established the numbers) and so are not intrested in personlization. This compounded with "sloth"in effect most people just dont care/dont have the time to expend to mess around with it. Its the same thing as people who have buisness, product ideas, eveybody has them, most stink and only a tiny percentage of them are acted on.

Lets look at some simple examples, food. We all need food, have different tastes, moden kitchens (ovens, microwaves, dishwashers, convection ovens, teflon pans) have made cooking easier than ever before, so you would think you would see a up swelling in the creation of home cooking…nope. There are a lot of spotless uber kitchens out there that have never seen a hot pan. The growth market, mfg meals, from takeout to a frozen skippy that you bounce into your microwave. If expressing creativity was such a burning passion would not you see the oppisite?

Lets take another from the home front, the humble loaf of bread, everybody loves the smell of fresh baked bread. The “bread machine” popular for 20-30 minuets a number of years ago ultimatley fell into the catagory of shelf queen, a product that lives back on the shelf forgot and unused. This even with them being 100% automatic after filling with a packet of mix and a bit of water.

You have your vision, doing the DD to convince the investors that you (or somebody is right) and far be it for me to upset that apple cart (sold a lot of “we must be right because its sooooo kool” ideas, concepts, swamp gas) for you. In the end will RP change the world of designers, a little, designers and other creative types will allways be a % of population with the ones making the $ as a % of the consuming population.

My point is that, in addressing the original question, myspace is an example that demonstrates why web designers need not fear for their jobs and, by extension, neither should the industrial designers. We are certainly in a time where more people think they can, and have the resources to, try to do it, but serious individuals and corporations recognize the value of someone who actually knows what they are doing or has a clear knack for it.

I think we are in agreement. I’ve said a number of times on this thread that ID as a profession will not die out. Even that there will be more industrial designers as a result - the more opportunities there are to manufacture products, the more designers will be needed.

On the movie example, whats the % there doc? under .01% of wanna bee’s that became noted directors.

I never said that everyone who wants to become a film director becomes one. And everyone who wants to be a designer won’t become one either. You implied that new film making technologies haven’t led to successful directors; I think you’re wrong.

On the old model, for your model to hold up (total on site production) your in effect taking uber end nano tech. With out the ability to “print” transistors, resistors, caps, condutors, engineering materials, metals, and ceramics your home sla machine only does static (plates, cups, lampshades) its going to require some real production mfg behind it someplace.

If you’re going to criticise me, you could at at least bother to read what I’ve written. “Total on site production” is not ‘my model’, and nowhere have I said it is. On the first comment I posted I said “in future industrial designers will be responsible for defining the parameters within which consumers can create designs. In other words deciding what should and should not be modified or redesigned.” The clue is in ‘should not’.

It comes down to this, 75% ±% of people are herd beasts, and buy what others in their social groups have/want (a noted phy experiment established the numbers) and so are not intrested in personlization.

This is quite simply wrong. If you’re genuinely interested I can give you the references to research which shows it. But just think that virtually everyone who has bought a computer from Dell has personalized it. Virtually everyone who buys a car these days chooses which options to include and which not to. What’s more, consumers are almost always willing to pay more for a product if they believe they have been able to personalise it to suit their needs. I’m not saying anything new here, it’s been known for at least 20 years and it’s one of the ways Japanese car manufacturers first got a foothold in, and then a significant portion of, the US market.

I have a dell, only personlization is the crap that been spilled on the keyboard. The “personlization” you offer as far as options go in auto is very small, mostly gimcraks and thingamobobs…more (features) that stack up well in as spec chart. Its a ohhhh they got nav system and the other guy dont, now I drive the same route every day but I GOT TO HAVE STAT NAV. How many non geeks mod their software, how many just plug in and run what they brung. We disagree, my perspective is based on hard won experiance…yours on wishful thinking.

Just because you strap a scalpel on a 5 axis machine and you own “home surgery for dummies” doesn’t make you a surgeon. Rapid prototyping is a tool, knowing how to use it properly in the design process is another story.

I saw a terrible master thesis presentation a few years back where the student proposed a service where any random person could create some objects aided by a 3d cad technician. In this case most of the items shown were kitchenware.

After the 1 hour presentation I asked “how can a regular guy design a safe object when he has no to little ergonomic/design knowledge? Could this lead to dangerous products?” The poor girl didn’t had an answer which turned out to be hilarious.

Again, I’m sorry for asking the wrong question initially, but can you guys respond to my questions on the second page?

Anyway, I think maybe I didn’t understand what I originally wanted to ask. I guess that individual use won’t be as much of an issue, but small groups of people and/or businesses.

Let’s imagine that this concept takes off, and instead of fewer, larger brands selling products, millions of smaller ones make small runs of products and then sell them (maybe even direct to the consumer.)

Read this article, it’s pretty interesting and it’s sort of where I’m going with these questions. It seems like business is moving away from the traditional model and I’m curious how IDers will be affected.
The Customer is the Company | Inc.com

If the actual “factories” become easy to own by a small amateurish business, then what of the large corporations that normally make all of this stuff? Would a designer still be as needed for smaller, more independent productions? It seems like one with extensive business/entrepreneurial experience would be in the best position.

I’m kind of having a tough time describing exactly what I mean, but basically I’m implying that with the actual “factories” now easier to obtain, smaller, more specialized firms would probably become much more commonplace. My question is how this will affect traditional ID guys who work for larger corporations deal with this when (assuming this happens) the larger companies start having trouble competing with smaller guys? And how would ID guys fit into this smaller, more specialized company?

Other thoughts: outsourcing to China would pretty much stop, no? I guess it depends on how costly it is to make these products, if consumers are willing to pay more for a more customized/specialized product, and if it is cost effective (maybe if there are less products to be made, the cost isn’t that much greater, therefore negating the need to ship elsewhere to produce?


Again, not so much concerned on the individual person as much as the downsizing of the whole process.

At some point, just like with itunes, the individual will probably be able to print out their purchase at home.

Buy the plans for a wireless device and print it on the home fabricator.

Larger items might be printed at a nearby print center like Kinko’s 3D.

At this point, I imagine small manufacturing for the first world will shrink considerably. This would probably decrease the costs of products because you would be cutting out much of the logistics for everything but the base materials required to print with (Think 3D ink cartridges.) This decrease might increase overall demand because each product would be more affordable.

This is all pretty down the road, and pie in the sky, but it seems like there would be a greater need for industrial designers at this point. More consumers due to globalization, cheaper fabrication, more cultural niches along with greater mass tastes means more marketing to reach consumers to drive desire, greater reach = more need for designers… corporate and small firm.

Who knows!

china, well its going to be mighty epensive to ship pretty soon if oil is at 200 a barrel, brush up on your spanish instead of your mandrin lol.

The think people are forgetting, the RP machines are not free or even cheap.

Really good stuff here guys and I think MasterBlaster has it right-on with the Desktop publishing analogy and the affects that personal fab could have on China/India.

Here’s the deal: in the future there will be more stuff, and more designers to design that stuff. You can take that to an extreme and say that everyone will design everything.

But the reality is that not everyone is good at it, and those who are, will always have an edge and be in demand. It’s been this way since the dawn of time, and I don’t see it changing.

So in other words, just because Joe consumer can fab his perfect widget doesn’t mean that Jane designer can’t entice him to trash his perfect widget for hers.

DVD players used to cost $1000. It’ll take longer, but the price will come down. I’m not talking in 5 years either. Maybe 15-20 for basic, affordable, household RP.

moving parts and market size baby, dvd player has few moving parts a rp has many more…but keep on a dreaming.

I don’t even think I can imagine what will be possible in 15-20 years with the way technology proliferates. I hardly think this idea is a leap worthy of being labeled a pipe dream. DVD players can be had for $50 and that clearly speaks to your market size. There will never be a market big enough for a price that low on home prototyping, but $1500… Why not?

In 1995, Apple charged $7000 for their color laser printer. The price today for a Samsung color laser at the Apple store: $299.95.