Monday, December 11, 2006

What will we make?

A common question for anyone learning about the promise of personal fabrication is, "What will people actually use this for?"

The answer to this is a varied as "What do people use computers for?", but it still warrants some active discussion, to sort out realistic and unrealistic expectations and make a few predictions. Obviously, while the technology remains primitive or expensive, only the most simple of applications will be practical, especially for novice users. But gradually, as the technology improves and techniques become cheaper, easier, and faster, the range of potential applications for these devices will become remarkably more vast.

Here's a rudimentary list of applications for regular end users: things that normal people might use personal fabrication machines to make at home. This list can grow with comments:

Eyeglasses (frames and lenses)
Kitchen utensils
Gardening tools
Avatar dolls
Customized shells for mobile devices
Home appliances
Automotive parts
Door and cabinet hardware
Crown molding
Fishing lures
Model railroad/RC car/ diorama components