Science
2:33 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

Could Maker Culture Spark the Next Industrial Revolution?

Everyone has ideas. Machines, inventions, and improvements to everyday products: things that bounce around in everyone's mind. But unless that someone is an engineer, inventor, or tinkerer, those ideas stay just that … ideas.

Until now that is.  

A new, emerging "maker" culture encourages innovators to create as they wish with the help of 3D printers, laser cutters, and many other tools. The Obama Administration even recently hosted a nationwide "Day of Making" for these creators. 

Is America at a tipping point for transitioning from a consumer culture to a maker culture? Yes, according to UT engineer Scott Allen, who spoke with The Texas Standard's David Brown about maker culture. “Anybody. Anybody can make” Allen reiterates.

Price drops for tools like 3D printers are increasing their availability. There is even the new arrival of maker-spaces where "you pay a membership fee, kind of like a gym membership," Allen says. "You learn how to use the tools, they train you, they teach you, and away you go." Allen says the coworking concept allows fellow makers to meet up, enabling them to “collaborate, make things simple and complex – and what comes out are businesses.” Allen also notes the power of Kickstarter, an online company crowdsourcing funding for many maker projects.

Allen speculates maker culture could spark a new age of production – one where makers and engineers can rush prototypes into the marketplace without the aid of a middleman. And as maker technology grows and gains ground, Allen says, the very act and definition of production in America could change forever.