Reading a bit like a chapter from Cory Doctorow’s Makers, here’s an article from Bloomberg that highlights how 3D printers + online savvy + mobile tools are bringing life back to local manufacturing and helping local shops and makers participate in local-to-global manufacturing and industry services:
Matthew Doom texts a lot at work and is a whiz on the 3D printer. Unlike most tech workers, his office is a wooden workbench next to a milling machine where he cuts metal for medical devices and other parts.
The 20-year-old is one of a dozen employees at Baklund R&D LLC in Hutchinson, Minnesota, using Internet connections with far-flung customers, smartphone chats and the latest in computer equipment to squeeze more business out of traditional tool and die equipment. Eight months ago Doom was milking cows at a nearby dairy farm.
“We’re taking an approach that is extremely non-traditional and we’ve even been able to beat prices offshore,” said Jon Baklund, 44, a second-generation toolmaker who runs the small shop 60 miles west of Minneapolis. He estimates his factory doubled its business with the innovations, getting inquiries from companies in 37 states last month.
Baklund, which hired four people in the last year including Doom and is seeking two more, is one of hundreds of small shops across the U.S. leveraging technology to meet demand for low volume, highly-customizable products. Other companies, such as Etsy Inc. and TechShop Inc., serve as online marketplaces or starting grounds for tiny manufacturers to churn out new inventory in metal, wood and even fabric.
Makers of dies and machine tools have increased employment by about 18 percent since August 2009, compared with a 2.9 percent gain for overall manufacturing, according to Dan Luria, an independent manufacturing economist in Brighton, Michigan….
Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!
Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!
The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!