A Distributed Manufacturing Timeline

By on September 29th, 2008 in blog


We encountered an interesting discussion about the future of 3D printing as it applies to manufacturing. Currently items are generally mass produced in distant factories, and then shipped to your local big-box store where you can pick them up at low prices. The theory is that this model will only persist for items that truly are standardized that have no need for variation. However, for anything that does deserve variation, personal or local 3D print facilities may eventually eliminate the need to head over to the big box store.

A great observation by Vinay Gupta in the discussion was:

a combination of supply chain logistics, customization, irregular demand and other factors makes mass manufacture implausible is already being done using distributed manufacturing. the biggest example of that, which nobody talks about, is housing which is all done with entirely redundantly stupid distributed manufacturing resulting in absurdly high prices for items which should come off production lines for 10% of the cost of hand-assembled individually unique boutique housing, which is currently the only model generally available.


Any place you see 5000 functionally equivalent items in a store, and you go in and sort through for what you need, you have a distributed manufacturing opportunity.

We heartily agree with these comments and also hope for Giant Housing Factories, too!

Via P2P Foundation Blog

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!

1 comment

  1. I agree to. I write a little about this in the upcoming issue of develop3d.

    The idea of ‘realistic local manufacturing’ is seen as optimistic by Michel and some of his crew partly because they see the locale of manufacturing changing, but not the technology.

    Smary eludes to it, ‘figuring how to distribute the trasformative process.’ I think he’s saying, how do we make it easily accessible.

    my opinion. whenever you think about how fab is gonna change you gotta throw in how technological advancement in the entire design process is going to affect it.

    thanks for posting this!


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