New approaches to manufacturing are set to take hold in Scotland over the coming decade, approaches that challenge the basic assumptions of production through the application of new affordable manufacturing technologies & ways of working.

- Centralised factories replaced by distributed workshops

- Global centralisation replaced by highly adaptive local cottage industries

Technologies like CNC Routing, Cutting & Drilling have been around for decades. What is interesting is how these technologies have been steadily transferred from industry to the garden shed with a burgeoning ‘tech shop’ scene in the United States and the development of CNC into laser and plasma cutting.

The emergence of cheap DIY 3D printers offer mass customisation & potentially the democratisation of design that breaks free from traditional assumptions of designer & client.

A new generation of small makers promises to bring these sophisticated means of production into the home, applying it to everything from making church benches, to printing jewellery; from making toys to printing whole houses.

This sophisticated making culture is sustained through social media networking, swapping, sharing, co-operating and collaborating. All community building techniques that goes hand in hand with the powerful concept of a global village of local makers.

Having access to the means of fabrication has the potential to democratize design and transform the entire life cycle of the things we use daily – from conceptualisation, design, manufacturing and recycling. The disruption of the orderly production cycle is profound, creating new values, changing how we associate commercialisation with wider social & ethical impacts.

Notions of intellectual property are being challenged; ‘Open source,’ where you can build on someone else’s work, in return for publishing your work under the same license and sharing back any changes.‘Hacking’ clubs that encourage people to dismantle, understand and ‘mod’ existing products with new and additive functions.

‘Fablab’ is a concept developed by Neil Gershenfeld Director at The Center for Bits and Atoms at MIT. It provides a hub to learn and share ideas, techniques and skills openly. It has grown to be a global network of over thirty workshops from as far afield as Afghanistan, Amsterdam, South Africa, Iceland, USA and Manchester.

‘Crowd funding’ provides a way to raise get funding for ideas from a wide range of people who share an interest, it works well with the concepts of open source and rapid prototyping.

These are all ideas that suit the nimbleness of being innovative and small. They all have a place in Scotland’s industrial revolution 2.0. They all have a place in places which are collaborative, places which seek new creative futures, places like MAKLab.

We’re excited by the prospect of developing a decentralised network of fabrication facilities that with the assistance of local creative networks will provide the platform to explore 21st century entrepreneurialism with tangible local and global community benefits. Learning from this de centralised experience of making and doing will have value for the future of collaborative working.

MAKLab aims to give everyone from school children through to entrepreneurs, the capability to turn their ideas and concepts into reality.

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Comment by Bruce Newlands on August 6, 2012 at 19:34

Anyone interested in using these technologies to assist community projects should visit and find out more. Ability to make (almost) anything from boat kits to models of villages, to community hall shutters and tables to hand crafts.

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