Monday, January 08, 2007

The revolution is Sears?

I'm having trouble keeping my geeky excitement under wraps about this one.

Here's why..

In the trajectory of events that will lead to widespread localized manufacturing, and a new economic model where production become distributed among consumers, there is a key technological challenge that must be overcome. This challenge is the development of manufacturing machinery that is cheap, easy to use, and widely available to end consumers. So far, the only machinery capable of translating computer-created designs into physical objects are expensive, proprietary, and enormous. These machines are the CNC mills and routers and laser and plasma cutters owned by large manufacturing firms, rapid prototyping shops, and universities. But when this technology becomes miniaturized and cheaper, as occurred when mainframes gave way to minicomputers, microcomputers, and personal computers, the floodgates will be opened, and, (if you can pardon a little melodrama), a new era of creativity and human achievement will be ushered in. In other words, it will be a big deal.

So Sears has announced a new power tool, under its Craftsman label. It's called the CompuCarve, and at first glance, it appears to be a genuine consumer-level plug-and-play computer controlled manufacturing device. This is completely unprecedented; before this device, a consumer needed either a tall stack of money or an electrical engineering background, or both, to get anything close to a home personal fab machine. The Craftsman CompuCarve is fairly new news, so I haven't had the chance to get my hands on one yet, but I can assure you that I will. And when I do, I'll report my findings and conclusions here.

If the CompuCarve is what it purports to be, and is sufficiently capable, it could well be the Altair 8800 or Apple I of the personal fabrication industry -- a simple yet functional entry-level machine accessible by the masses that will open the door to future development of more and more sophisticated and cheaper machines. This has the potential to be the enabler for the new economy of the future, where consumers own the means of production.


Blogger Salgat said...

So it cuts wood? I'm all for this technology, but please be more specific about what the hell it does.

Monday, January 8, 2007 at 2:27:00 PM PST  
Blogger Brad Thompson said...

All of the demos so far show it cutting wood, but it looks capable of cutting a wide range of soft-to-hard materials. I've added some information in the next post - cheers!

Monday, January 8, 2007 at 4:56:00 PM PST  

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