education background in Industrial design, I was always fascinated by the idea
of personal fabrication. Later, I was fortunate to get the opportunity to work
with rapid prototyping for developing new products. Now, as this concept of
personal fabrication becomes mainstream, the following advantages and
disadvantages vs. traditional manufacturing methods become clear:
On-demand manufacturing: Making products before
introducing them directly to the market as with mass-produced items, means that
user testing is involved at a much earlier stage than before. This allows for
quick iterations to achieve products that are closer to user needs. This means
more work for industrial designers to create versions but in the long term less
waste, less overstock, and less overproduction.
Mass Customization: Each product can now be
made unique as per the needs and variables defined by the customer. Customers
will be able to enjoy better quality-personalized products, may be at a
slightly higher cost than their mass manufactured counterparts. This can be a
good opportunity for industries such as prosthetics and home products such as
door handles etc.
products: For a consumer who is located in a remote area, it
would be intuitive to personally fabricate a replacement part for an outdated
or unsupported device. The manufacturers could also break the product into
downloadable replacement part to save on inventory and shipping.
4. Serving the micro-markets: Consumers in developing
nations, or niche markets like disability, where users have special needs,
personal fabrication will be a game-changer. Now, designers and manufacturing
companies will be able to focus on these consumers and create highly functional
products that are customized to their unique requirements.
5. Adding unique geometrical
shapes: Prototyping techniques allow for complex geometry to be
introduced in prototypes that is not possible with mass manufacturing