What exactly does “DIY” mean these days? Traditionally, it’s been related to “how-to” content, including things like “how to change a tire,” but over the past couple of years, it’s been coined much more broadly to describe any activity that uses an element of creative skills to make or design something on your own. Using this definition, DIY can stand for everything from baking a cake, to decorating a bedroom, to creating handmade products like jewelry. Some also use DIY in a more technical context as it relates to making gadgets like robots, printers and other programmable devices hacked together using free software and tools found across the web. Finally, I know people who would even claim that they “made” products such as their custom Nike iD sneakers, even if that meant they personalized the colors and design online and had the production take place elsewhere.
In essence, the very word “making” or the act of being a “maker” or “DIYer” is rapidly changing and is affecting more people than ever before. In this regard, I would argue it’s changing for the better.
The Maker Movement, which is allowing innovative ideas to bubble up from individuals, is changing the way electronics hardware is being brought to market. The electronics industry had better sit up and take notice since this group is coming up with some of the best and brightest new ideas.
The maker movement, as we know, is the umbrella term for independent inventors, designers and tinkerers. A convergence of computer hackers and traditional artisans, the niche is established enough to have its own magazine, Make, as well as hands-on Maker Faires that are catnip for DIYers who used to toil in solitude.
According to Atmel, a major backer of the Maker movement, there are approximately 135 million U.S. adults who are makers, and the overall market for 3D printing products and various maker services hit $2.2 billion in 2012. That number is expected to reach $6 billion by 2017 and $8.41 billion by 2020. According to USA Today, makers fuel business with some $29 billion poured into the world economy each year. For more feedback on the economics of the Maker Movement, check out Jeremiah Owyang’s “Maker Movement and 3D Printing Industry Stats.
One might try to marginalize robotics or 3D fabrication as having nothing to do with “real” science and dismiss such activities as play or as just super-charged hobbies. However, today’s new low-cost, flexible, creative, and powerful materials should be viewed as building blocks for today’s children. They offer much more than just “hands-on” crafting—these tools bring electronics, programming, and computational mathematics together in meaningful, powerful ways. We must reimagine school science and math not as a way to prepare students for the next academic challenge, or a future career, but as a place where students are inventors, scientists, and mathematicians today.
The Maker Movement opens the door for thousands of small businesses and niche markets every year and it looks as if the numbers are rising this being said regulations will need to be met in order to provide an adequate service in the future.
The maker movement affects many different sectors including but not limited to the ones listed above, with its ever expanding base of individuals it looks as if the ‘maker movement’ won’t be dying off anytime soon.