What manufacturers don’t want you to know about Peer Production

Peer production flips the idea of the factory by using resources spread across the community instead of in a centralized location. Factories are the inevitable result of using expensive machines that require costly organizational process to use effectively. This is why the original Ford plant took in raw materials in one end and spit out cars in the other. It was just too expensive to do it any other way.

Eventually increased labor costs and cheap machines led to outsourcing, but the whole process was still controlled by an organization. Now though, machine tools such as milling machines, laser cutters and 3D printers have become affordable to the general public. This has turned garages into machine shops.

Community workshops are the second trend enabling Peer Production by sharing the use of costly machine equipment with a large group of people. TechShops are a chain of community machine shops that contain millions of dollars of equipment and operate like a gym. Members buy a monthly pass, get trained on equipment and have shared access to everything the shop has to offer.

Peer Production has been used to create successful companies such as Dodo Case and has given hope to the idea that the US can still compete as a manufacturing center. The case was born out the desire to create a high quality case for tablets and ebook readers. Founders Craig Dalton and Patrick Buckley used equipment and knowledge from TechShop to turn their idea into a multimillion dollar business.

 

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