Even though the micromanufacturing movement is in its very early stages, a garage equipped with homebrew digitally controlled machine tools can do most of what once required a mass-production factory — at a cost two orders of magnitude cheaper. We’re now seeing a reversal of the technological shift that brought about the concentration of economic power and the predominance of wage employment two centuries ago: a shift from expensive machines affordable only by large organizations, back to general-purpose craft tools affordable by individual workers.
Projects like Open Source Ecology are rapidly expanding the range of tools that can be built cheaply for the garage factory, while 100kGarages is continuing its pioneering efforts in networked micromanufacturing. We’re approaching a time when most of the stuff we consume can be produced in a microfactory with under $10k worth of tools, using open-source digital designs, and marketed to the surrounding neighborhood. When the cost of a factory is three months’ wage, “how ya gonna keep ‘em down on the farm?”
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