8 Objects That Signal A New Industrial Revolution

Has the continued development of rapid prototyping and the open source movement placed us on the verge of a third industrial revolution? Let's take a look.

A new exhibition at the New Museum in New York called Adhocracy explores the issue. It’s a collection of 25 machines, printers, apps, and objects that illustrate how rapid prototyping and DIY culture is changing how we make and buy objects.

That can mean anything from a set of standardized joints that let the user build a bike out of nearly any material, to a solar-powered 3D printer that uses sand from the surrounding desert, to an open source guide to repairing household appliances. The objects vary, but the ethos stays the same: making is no longer the purview of companies which manufacture millions of the same object. It's the right of individuals, who are manufacturing one or two objects to fit their own unique needs, then passing along their code.

Here are seven highlights.

ProdUSER by Tristan Kopp:

ProdUSER isn't a bike — it's a series of connections that let people built their own bikes, out of whatever materials available. Those metal joints on the frames? Those are the components. The idea is to make it easier to assemble a bike in remote or developing areas.

Blablablab’s “Be Your Own Souvenir” project:

Visitors can have their portrait printed at this installation by Barcelona studio Blablablab, which uses three Kinects to generate a point cloud of whomever is standing on a platform in the gallery. Then, whoever is manning the booth exports the model to the nearby MakerBot 3D printer, et voila — your own souvenir. Of yourself.

Markus Kayser's Solar Sinter:

German designer Markus Kayser made news back in 2010 with a device he called SunCutter — a solar-powered laser cutter. Solar Sinter goes one step further: the solar-powered 3D printer generates objects using sand from wherever it's placed. It's a desert-optimized rapid prototyping wonder.

OpenStructures by Thomas Lommée and Jesse Howard

OpenStructures isn't an object so much as a network. It gives DIYers a modular grid around which to design and model their work, establishing a standard vocabulary that would make designs — like kids' swing or 3D-printed water filter above — easier to share. It's been described as "Esperanto for objects."

Thibault Brevet’s DRM Chair:

The DRM (or Digital Rights Management) Chair is a commentary on the practice of building planned self-destruction into a particular digital product. After it's been sat on eight times, the chair falls apart — just like a virtual DRM for digital files.

Heineken WoBo:

In the late 1950s, Heineken asked Dutch architect John Habraken to design a bottle that could double as a building material in developing countries. Only 60,000 of the bottles were ever produced, thanks to what some describe as the "internal bureaucracy" of the company. Today, some are pushing for their reintroduction in developing countries, where ready-made bricks could be hugely useful.

Drones+ app by Josh Begley

Drones+ isn't exactly an object, and it doesn't deal with manufacturing, but it is a great example of the ethos of the show. NYU grad student Josh Begley created the app to notify users of recent CIA drone strikes that resulted in mortalities — the app, for mysterious reasons, was later rejected by the Apple Store.

Unfold’s “Stratigraphic Manufactury:

Using clay dug up from sites around the city, the designers behind the Stratigraphic Manufactury print cups, bowls, and vases from ceramic powder. They published their 3D models online, and asked people from around the world to print the same objects using local clay. The result is a series of objects that are the same, but subtly different, thanks to the unique properties of local materials.


    OK "Solar Sinter" with a little tuning and development and I mean "a little"........ WOW, world changing !!!

    "Thibault Brevet’s DRM Chair" this is all kinds of stupid from any angle that I can think of
    complete waste of materials etc

      It's not a waste of materials or time because it's not a product: It's an art installation. It's designed to make you think, not to be a practically useful seating implement.

        I understand the art factor of the DRM chair and it is 'a kind of' effective, but a sign of a new industrial revolution it is not.

        AllI could see was the parade of hipsters sitting on a chair that collapsed under the weight of pretentious wankery.

        The Drone app as well, not a sign of a new industrial revolution.#misleadinggizmodoarticletitle

        Indeed, the artistic commentary in it, I personally got straight away, I liked it personally.

    "Print" is such an idiotic word to describe how these objects are made- In that it confuses and obfuscates the processes that're actually used at the expense of using a catchy title, much like "cloud". These are processes that have to be properly understood by the public at large (because universal dissemination is the driving force here), not hidden under needless catch-all buzz-names.

    I like the idea of those bikes most.

      "These are processes that have to be properly understood by the public at large..."

      Really? You think the general public properly understands how their cars or mobile phones work? Most people would be hard pressed to tell you how a toaster or kettle works, but they can tell you what they do.

      It is great that people make their own Rep Rap (or any other flavour of 3D printer), but the technology will only become ubiquitous when people can buy one from Harvey Norman or JB Hifi, when they can print something from a vending machine, and/or when they can send their design to or drop it off at a photo lab type place and come back in an hour to collect their printed thing.

        "You think the general public properly understands how their cars or mobile phones work?"

        Of course not. The point is that these fabrication devices are for everyone, so the general public can each make their own thing- Completely different from the mobile phone and car example. You don't make your car and we know what cars do because they were invented before anyone today alive was born. Mobile phones are obvious mobile versions of another technology that was invented before anyone alive today was born.
        This new tech is new- a fabrication factory in your own home.

        They're not printers, some of the early prototypes re-purposed some ink jet printer parts and sort of in a very, very abstract way built products up like an ink jet printer builds an image... But most of them do not work anything like that. They're fabricators, simple as that and that's easier to understand. The whole "3D printing" is idiotic and abstract, it's a barrier to knowledge like all buzz-words- exactly like "Cloud" has been.

        Last edited 19/05/13 2:45 am

          You posited that the public at large has to understand the processes.

          My point, and I did have one, is that people don't have to understand it to use it. They just have to see it work, and want one.

          Few Americans could tell you what a cell is, yet Cellphones sell by the crapload.

          Build it, and make it good, and they will want one, whether you call it a 3D Printer, a Fabricator (which people are just as likely to associate with lying) or a MYOS* Machine (TM).

          *Make Your Own S#1t

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