Friday, June 20, 2014

DIY Auto Industry

FABrication via Progress Thailand :: Not much about the business model of car manufacturing has changed since Henry Ford began using the assembly line to crank out Model-T's a century ago. The process is an elaborate, capital intensive endeavor that requires constant market expansion to sustain itself, and barring that, the merger of auto companies into bigger and ever more ungainly monopolies. The result is a very impersonal product with limited options, designed, produced, and distributed from a centralized network of manufacturers and suppliers. It is a process driven by profits rather than advancing the realm of transportation, unless on the rare occasion profitability and advancement coincide.

While there is much criticism that could fill the next several paragraphs regarding the auto industry, we could just as easily say that without this long and difficult learning process and the innovations it has produced, we would not be here today ready to take the next step forward.

The Next Step 

Customization has always been an integral part of car culture. Hot rods and racing have more than anything besides the auto industry itself, laid the foundation for the DIY auto revolution. As after-market parts become more popular and more business big and small set up to supply them to consumers, the natural evolution of more efficient and cheaper manufacturing processes are developed. Automated and computer controlled machining and now 3D printing has also spread across the custom car (and motorcycle) community.The ability to use a single machine to create an infinite number of variations to wheel hubs for example, on a water jet cutter, antiquates assembly lines producing a limited number of variations for consumers to choose from.

Soon, as the tools for computer aided manufacturing become simple and cheap enough for anyone to use, producers and consumers will merge as one, and we have some good examples of people working toward this end to take stock of here and now.

Read the rest at Progress Thailand...