According to the dictionary, to manufacture something is to make goods or wares by manual labor or by machinery, especially on a large scale. This definition, for many people, can be a little fuzzy. If a student says they want to go into “manufacturing” or a teacher wants to teach skills applicable to manufacturing careers, what does that really mean? What are the skills needed to be a maker? And most importantly, what qualifies as “making”?
It seems as if it’s generally understood that your three-year old crafting a log home from Lincoln Logs is not deemed a manufacturer, no matter how prodigious the creation may be. However, there are plenty of other “makers” around the country that have recently hopped the fence over to manufacturing on a large scale. The components of being involved in manufacturing can include design, engineering, troubleshooting, technical and IT support, and even more. It’s a vast world with plenty of possibilities for people with a wide variety of skills.
Here are some interesting manufacturing projects going on across the country that just might help give you a scope of how large the field really is. There are plenty of people manufacturing products that you never knew existed, and with websites like Kickstarter available, it’s easier than ever to spread the word about your passion.
Robot Turtles: This is one of the projects that began on Kickstarter, and is now available at Target and on Amazon. While on leave from Google, Dan Shapiro invented the board game Robot Turtles as a way to sneak in programming to fun activities with his kids. It ended up being the most funded project ever on Kickstarter, and Thinkfun picked up the game for the catalog. Thinkfun’s experience in manufacturing took the game to a whole new level, and it’s now popular for parents hoping to get their children (around age 4) a headstart on coding skills. And with the way our industries are going, that’s not a bad idea…
Keen: This shoe manufacturing company was actually founded out of Portland, Oregon in 2003 and now produces around 300,000 pairs a year. The company has a passionate fanbase, and is said to run like a mini-Google, with an office built for relaxation and a healthy work-life balance. Before Keen arrived on the outdoor footwear scene, the only options were brown and black. With their new and improved colors and materials, the company has experienced unprecedented growth for the industry in the last ten years.
3D Printed Earbuds: We’ve talked a lot about 3D printing on here and how it’s changing the entire industry of manufacturing–and the cool things happening in 3D printing are a whole new post all on their own. The Manhattan-based company Normal is now opening a retail store, however, to sell custom made 3D printed earbuds. The store, factory, and headquarters are all in one location. Talk about efficient…
Questions? Other cool products being manufactured that we missed? Send us a tweet or leave a comment in the section below!