Donal Reddington on mass customization, crowdsourcing and digital manufacturing

Links for 25 February

1.  Jeff Howe, author of the Crowdsourcing book, has written an interesting and comprehensive blog post about the possible future online business models that might be adopted by the print media.

2.  RPI, a provider of automated, mass-customized manufacturing and fulfillment for the consumer print-on-demand market, recently announced that it has set an industry record through the production of more than 1.3 million photo books in 2008.  This brings its overall production tally to three million photo books since the product’s launch, representing a 60 percent year-over-year growth.

3.  Tim O’Reilly, founder of the O’Reilly Publishing company that specialises in programming and other IT topics, gives an interview to The Inquirer, in which he notes:

“The deeper idea we’ve been exploring throughout all aspects of the company is the idea that a lot of times the most interesting technology can be discovered by what people do with it for fun.”

He gives a number of examples to support this idea, including the following:

“Open-source hardware is telling us something about the future of manufacturing – playing with mass customisation in various ways.”  This trend began with sites like Threadless, in which communities collaborate and vote on T-shirt designs; now there are all sorts of start-ups enabling people to design items for manufacturing.  “That’s open-source hardware.  People are realising there’s no real advantage in owning the design.  The cost may come down if more people use and manufacture the parts.”

4.  The AsiaOne website contains a reproduction of an article from Singapore newspaper The Business Times, in which Sivam Krish, CEO and founder of Genometri, describes the possibilities for user-generated content, and user-generated products.  He tells how:

“I was a former assistant professor in industrial design lecturer in the Department of Architecture at the National University of Singapore (NUS) for about three years.  During my classes, I found that the younger generation was able to create designs using a fundamentally different approach.I found them spending a lot of time in front of computers modifying computer-aided design models, and I felt that this could be automated.


With the support of the university’s Industry Liaisons Office, I patented this technology that I felt could completely change the way products are designed.

Together with four friends, I set up a company called Genometri, to develop this core design technology and with a deep breath I took the leap from being an academic to an entrepreneur. NUS has a good support structure for funding. But as with all start-ups, there were its difficulties too.  Mine was in convincing designers to use the software I created.

After attending a conference in the US on mass customisation, I realised that the greater opportunity is in letting customers design and that most companies were trying to let their customers do this.

So we swung our B2B model to a B2C model, focusing on the consumer.  We launched a portal ( as a design platform that would allow consumers to create personalised keepsakes, including mugs, t-shirts and 3D-printed photo frames, by using drag-and-drop functions.”

I hope to write a longer post on the current state of the 3D printing sector soon.

More links later!

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