Over the past decade, a few enabling tools have emerged to significantly change what it means to make / manufacture things at small scale. For those who launch products, crowdsourcing platforms have provided low risk ways to demonstrate market fit (a disruptive idea that may itself be disrupted by blockchain-based smart contracts), while desktop 3D printing has come to the fore as an automated production method that reduces the risk of tooling investment.
The Popup Factory explored this concept by bringing together experts in electronics, parametric design and manufacturing to create over 1000 unique wearables at the O’Reilly Solid Conference. Powered by a bank of stereolithography 3D printers, pick and place electronics systems, reflow ovens, and custom hardware, the entire manufacturing process came together over the course of 2 days, creating wireless wearables allowing people to match interests based on proximity.
Along the way, the limits of 3D printers were revealed and we demonstrated embryonic technologies and anticipated systems to come. It was a moment in which we explored a democratized vision of accessible making and manufacturing by actually building it.