What's the deal with distributed manufacturing?

distributed manufacturing
CC BY 2.0 Flickr -- Maria Keays

Last week, the digital business publication Quartz hosted a talk about 3D printing, with a discussion panel made up of Lizbeth Arum from Makerbot, Duann Scott from Shapeways, Matthew Griffin from Adafruit, and Joergen Geerds of Freedom360.us. Quartz writer Christopher Mims moderated the conversation.

The talk in many ways was a primer on the uses of 3D printing and an outline of the challenges facing its development. One of the most interesting conversation points surrounded how the internet serves as a distribution platform for designs that can be put into production from anywhere with access to a 3D printer. "This distribution platform allows anyone to share their designs," said Griffin. Geerds added that sharing ideas also encourages users to modify designs--either to improve them or to customize them.

Christopher Mims has written about distributed manufacturing both as it applies to 3D printers, and older technologies like CNC Milling. We asked him to give the basic run down:

Lloyd's readers are likely to be familiar with the idea of "downloadable design," which advocates sharing ideas, blueprints and designs across the internet to be made locally. Why move stuff when you can move ideas? Some great examples of downloadable designs and distributed manufacturing already on the market are AtFAB furniture and FACIT homes.

What's the deal with distributed manufacturing?
Quartz writer Christopher Mims hosts a conversation about 3D printing.