New Industrial Revolution welcomes a new generation of digital manufacturing entrepreneurs

Forget screens and discover the Internet of Things, that you can design, manufacture and distribute yourself now. Not only internet economy can be bottom-up and collective, but manufacturing too. 

Chris Anderson announces the beginning of the third Industrial Revolution (that we will witness in the next 10 years) in his recently released book, Makers.

Greetings to a new generation of entrepreneurs: the Makers.


Internet businesses get most of our attention nowadays. We worship screens and we praise internet entrepreneurs (from the bubble until the app economy). In only ~20 years, internet helped us evolve by empowering people to create and share bits.

But while being distracted by the shiny screens, we tend to forget that we still live in a world of things (atoms). We eat, drink, wear clothes, drive cars, live in houses with furniture etc. And digital and physical worlds are mixing more and more (Internet of Things).

Manufacturing and its related distribution and sales in retail are still the biggest share of the economy (while digital economy makes 20 trillion revenues, the economy beyond the web makes 130 trillion revenues, according to Citibank and Oxford economics). Although most of the value and job creation is in the world of manufacturing, most of the people consider it difficult to enter and disrupt as they expect dealing with high up-front investments and big players.

But we are very soon to witness a big change here: the democratization of manufacturing through shared production facilities (like open-hardware), new technologies (like 3D printing – which is becoming increasingly cheaper, better, faster and omnipresent, CNC machines), open-source design, open innovation, collaborative communities, crowdfunding.

Industrialization of DIY spirit […] The biggest transformation is not in how things are done, but in who is doing it.” Now people can design their own prototypes digitally on their computers, share them and collaborate in online communities all over the world and produce them in any numbers in shared production facilities.

The manufacturing can and will be from now on bottom-up and collective and this will affect big players and economies. What we witnessed in the internet economy can now be expanded to the entire economy.

And as in any revolution, life quality will improve, allowing us to work less in “production” and to have more time for education, creation, development. Hopefully this will also lead to the extinct of the 8 hours work day, from 9 to 6, that lasts since the previous industrial revolution in Britain (8 hours since 1866 to be more precise, before that a work day was even 10 or 12 hours). There are lots of evidence that this is plain wrong in today’s economy, moreover in a globalized economy where we have to work with people at many timezones away. And a new way of working is already emerging, as best is described in Harvard Business Review’s article, The Rise of the Super-Temp.

So, if you plan to go into business soon, you might also consider the economical shift approaching and the opportunities DIY manufacturing has to offer in our digital, hyper-connected world. If you can imagine it, you can build it. Anything.

I highly recommend you to read the book Makers by the best-selling author of Free (introducing Freemium model) and The Long Tail, editor of Wired magazine, and founder of 3D Robotics (fast-growing manufacturer of aerial robots, and DIY Drones).