Power is a function of the tangible value you or your organization can create.
During the Industrial Revolution, we watched the power to create tangible value reduce to a smaller number of large companies, in comparison to the mercantile economy of the middle ages and age of exploration.
This has driven the types of products that are available to consumers to a symmetrically small number of mass produced widgets. The complex, centralized manufacturing system that produces wields a tremendous ability to produce products quickly and at low costs. However, we have built a system that is too inflexible to be modernized with new, more flexible technologies. In addition, traditional manufacturing systems are not designed with the preservation of our natural resources in mind. This has created an unpriced externality in our global supply chain which results in the degradation and marginalization of our planet and communities.
If these trends continue unabated, the future will not actually be better, the status quo will simply be more globalized. We will continue to produce more uninspired, environmentally insensitive products in vast quantities for a consumer base for which the entire process is a baroque and opaque black box.
With the advent of rapid prototyping, VR, AI, drones, and collaboration software, we are seeing the technological framework for a new, decentralized industrial revolution that is already beginning to happen.
Companies are leveraging these tools in new ways to build and sell new classes of products. They are opting to forgo ownership of key assets and instead opting to rent their infrastructure on demand. They are cutting new product development timelines and using software enabled hardware products to rapidly push updates to end users. They are using additive manufacturing to redefine their small batch manufacturing processes.
We must create alternative manufacturing systems that reengage the consumer in the process of creation, are more efficient with our natural resources, and are can produce not millions of 1 thing, but millions of slightly different products highly customized to an end users needs.
For this to be possible, you must have three things: Facilities, Equipment, and Special Skills. If one can efficiently arrange flexible manufacturing equipment in spaces and give human experts the ability to tap into that infrastructure and contribute time and knowledge into it, you have a distributed factory.
This is what we are building at Betabox.
Right now, we just rent the facilities. Next, we will rent the technology. Soon, we will start manufacturing during downtime. Finally, we will launch a distributed manufacturing utility accessible to anyone.
– Sean, CEO @ Betabox.