Speaker: Mark Frauenfelder, Author; Founder & Editor, Boing Boing; Editor-in-Chief, MAKE
Time: Wednesday, February 9 , 6-8pm
Location: USC’s Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts (RZC), Room 122
TITLE: DIY 2.0: 21st Century Innovation
ABSTRACT: In the last couple of years do-it-yourselfers have gained
access to a myriad of new tools and services to help them design,
prototype, fund, manufacture, and sell the things they make. Most of
these tools and services are free or very inexpensive, and they hint
at a future in which individuals and small collectives will offer
viable alternatives to mass-produced goods.
3D design programs like Google SketchUp, Blender, and Alibre PE are
not only much more powerful than the software I was using 25 years
ago, they are much cheaper, too. (Alibre PE is $99 and Google SketchUp
and Blender are free.) DIYers are using these programs to design
everything from bicycles to chicken coops to model rocket components.
And they are sharing their 3-D designs on websites like
Thingaverse.com, where other people can download the designs, modify
them, and then make their own versions of products using the models.
And the tools that they are using to make these objects are getting
more powerful and cheaper all the time, too. Remember when laser
printers, which cost $100 today, used to cost $10,000? A similar thing
is happening with manufacturing machines. Low-end laser cutters cost
about $7000, compared to $20,000 just a couple of years ago. And 3-D
printers, such as MakerBot Industries’ Thing-O-Matic (a rapid
prototyping machine that prints out objects in the same kind of
plastic that Lego bricks are made of) sell for about $1200.
Eventually 3-D printers will become as commonplace in people’s homes
and offices as laser printers are today. But in the meantime, websites
like Ponoko.com and Shapeways.com are the equivalent of desktop
publishing service bureaus. For a small fee you can send your 3-D
design to Ponoko.com and Shapeways.com and have them print out a model
in plastic, metal, or other material. These service bureaus will also
manufacture and sell your product to anyone around the world who wants
Most of the things that DIYers make are funded out-of-pocket. But for
more ambitious garage entrepreneurs, websites like Kickstarter.com
allow DIYers to post requests for project funding. The next phase in
crowdsource funding will be small scale securities markets in which
individual investors will share in the profits of financially
And finally, the Web itself has become the great enabler of
do-it-yourself innovation. It allows communities of interest to
communicate with each other, greatly accelerating the evolution of
designs of everything from amateur unmanned flying drones to cigar box
guitars. The Web also serves as an indexed surplus store where almost
anything anyone would want can be found with a simple search.
In the 19th century people made most of the things that they used
furniture, clothing, shelter, food. We may see a return to a world
where individuals make many of the things they use every day, but be
connected to other innovative individuals around the world who help
them realize their goals.