It all started with a big…
What if there were a Wikipedia for physical things?
A place where everyone could openly take part in producing and sharing physical products with just a laptop and an internet connection? Not just useful knowledge, but useful innovation? What if there was a place with recipes to build products that could be immediately shared, downloaded, improved upon, and made into things that people actually need?
When we started thinking about creating this space six years ago, digital fabrication had only just begun to emerge. And with it, a distributed community began to grow across the world. They adopted new manufacturing technologies to change how things were made. And they started sharing their ideas online. From precision-cut furniture, to customised CNC milled homes, to affordable science equipment, prosthetics, and more. Today, there isn’t an industry that hasn’t been touched by these new manufacturing technologies.
This movement was so exciting that we wanted to help make it happen in better and bigger ways. So we wrote a book about the idea and started to put it all into practice. First, with digitally fabricated houses – the Wikihouse – designed to be affordable to many more people. But we didn’t stop there. And we didn’t stop asking what if…
What if “hardware” products were developed like software?
With open innovation and a more agile mindset and methods making the design and development of physical things better, faster and in tune with people’s needs?
And what if the usually expensive and complex tools needed to do this collaboratively were made accessible to anyone with a great idea, a laptop and an internet connection?
And while we’re at it…
Why not make this happen on a different kind of social platform?
One designed for productivity not killing time? For creating things, not consuming things?
Where a community from around the world could innovate together to develop meaningful and useful products with local materials and resources that solved real-world problems?
Where enterprises could tap into the collective ingenuity, expertise and talents of a global community of product developers, opening their own innovation to fresh ideas and possibilities?
Those were the questions. Wikifactory was our answer.
What if we built a single, online infrastructure… where a farmer in rural Africa could fabricate a vital replacement part for a tractor faster and cheaper locally. Products for crisis relief could be produced on the ground, avoiding delays and removing costly shipping and inventories.
Diverse communities around the world could make what they needed, with locally available materials and resources, and become more self-sufficient. They could solve problems collaboratively. Be inspired by, and learn from, others. Build on each others’ work by re-using components. Not re-inventing the wheel.
The environment would benefit too, because we could adopt a more circular industrial model to the one that is rapidly consuming our planet’s resources.
And Industry would become a more level playing field. New entrants could create new ideas and greater competition. Resulting in better every-day products for everyone.
Something that will turn manufacturing on its head.
We call it The Internet of Production.
The internet and the sharing economy has already transformed participation in ideas, influence, and opinion. But the Internet of Production will transform global industry.
Industry 4.0 has been called a game-changer for manufacturing. Although it might digitise the systems, it won’t change the paradigm or the shape of global supply chains.
What we propose will. Disrupting not one industry, but industry itself. Creating a more inclusive, open, sustainable and resilient industrial model. A single online infrastructure for global innovation and local production.