Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Virtual Machine Shops and Scalable Manufacturing

A common problem across the making world is the lack of ability to quickly scale product/part manufacturing at a reasonable cost.  Having your products' CAD files parked at multiple virtual machine shops can help you pump out products on a whim.  Here are a few resources that might help you navigate spikes in order volume.

Whether you are looking to have parts made on a very small scale or very large scale you are in luck.  Virtual machine shops are popping up left and right allowing anyone with a computer and some free CAD software to play Mr(s). Engineer.

Start here:
Ponoko is a great place to start as they provide links to CAD software you can use to design new parts as well as offering a service to fabricate said part.

Shapeways is another great starting place for having your parts created.  You can find them at:

Swing through here: 
Have you pumped out a few prototypes and are now looking to sweeten the deal by scaling up your quantities and minimizing your manufacturing costs?  Check out

ImagineN4tion spoke with a representative from recently about the viability of small to medium scale operations having their products produced through the platform. confirmed that their service is not only for the big fish in the sea but also the small fish, aka: Makers attempting to scale up their product manufacturing capability.  Here are the tips we received for small fish maximizing the value in their platform:

1)  Submit RFQs (Request For Quotes) for multiple products at the same time.  This helps the manufacturers realize you are a serious potential client that did not simply make one product and only need three of them manufactured.

2)  Do not send out RFQs left and right unless you are seriously looking at having something created.  Forcing manufacturers to spend their time pricing quotes repeatedly and then never placing an order does not reflect well on you.  Thus, use RFQs with products you are serious about scaling up.

3)  Use your account representative as an information resource.  When you create an account with you will be contacted by one of their account representatives.  These account representatives are very helpful and can help you navigate the landscape of the manufacturing world.  They are a valuable resource.  Make use of them!

End here:
Sell all your widgets and booyah, Profit.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Open Source Hardware - OSHW

Open Source what, Open Under Ware who... ?

OSHW, What is it?
What is Open Source Hardware, or OSHW?  What exactly does OSHW mean?  Even though Dave here is an electrical engineer and generally they are nothing but trouble, we will lend him our ears as he does a great job explaining OSHW on his video blog:

Why is OSHW Significant?
Lets take this to the next level and better understand how OSHW has been evolving and dancing with innovation and the entrepreneurial community.  Remo Giovanni Abbondandolo investigates entrepreneurial opportunities for OSHW users in his Master Thesis which can be found online here:

Where do we go from here?
So, what are your thoughts on the subject?  Let us hear your opinion.

1)  How do we better foster entrepreneurial activity in the OSHW/Maker/Hacker/Social Building community?

2)  How do we promote more collaboration on projects spanning multiple skill sets?

3)  What virtual and physical resources are crucial in helping the community monetize their ideas and builds?