Will Makers Become Manufacturers?

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Makers includes inventors, designers, and artisans who create small batches of products in workshops, garages, and home offices. The Maker Movement is a global phenomenon, but New York City hosts one of the world’s eight great Maker Faires, events that attract tens of thousands of attendees. As the Maker Movement continues to grow, what’s the best way to maximize its economic development potential?
In an article for the Manufacturing Innovation Blog from the National Institute for Science and Technology (NIST), FuzeHub describes efforts to answer this question. A team of technical and business professionals, FuzeHub connects small-to-medium manufacturers in New York State to Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) assets and other resources that support business growth.
In 2014, FuzeHub partnered with Etsy, a Web-based marketplace that aggregates members of the Maker Movement. Working with seven Etsy Sellers, FuzeHub helped these Makers to identify their requirements for growing small batches into production-run quantities. The results may have implications for MEP Centers and manufacturers who want to engage Makers, some of whom are unfamiliar with manufacturing requirements.
For example, FuzeHub found that Makers may need assistance with regulatory compliance and intellectual property protections such as patents. Makers are interested in sourcing green materials and learning about environmentally-friendly best practices, but need to acquire other business and technical skills, too. For manufacturers, it’s important to have organizational values that support meeting Makers’ needs.
Are you a New York State manufacturer who’s worked with Makers? Are you a Maker who’s worked with NYS manufacturers? What was your experience like, and what advice would you offer? With Makers pouring some $29 billion into the world economy each year, maximizing the economic development potential of the Maker Movement may have significant implications for manufacturing in New York State and beyond.
Image Credit: © guruXOX/Dollar Photo Club


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