Our workshop on “Democratizing Manufacturing” took place on August 8-9, 2016 at the Washington Marriott at Metro Center, Salon A (775 12th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005). Please contact us at workshop@mforesight.org if you have questions about the workshop.


Thank you to our participants! We had lively conversations with you at the workshop.

Download & Read Report

In recent years, the variety and value of the manufactured products that an individual or small team can design and prototype has increased due to a variety of reasons (lower cost of desktop equipment, CAD software, shared Makerspaces, etc.). We believe that these trends could foster manufacturing innovation, and are interested in informing a national agenda to make the most of these opportunities. We gathered a small group of innovators and manufacturers to discuss:

  • What advances in hardware, software, and services would have the biggest impact on increasing the variety and value of what an individual could design, prototype, and manufacture?
  • How can entrepreneurs best be supported to make the transition from “making” to low-volume manufacturing?
  • What are the barriers that entrepreneurs and SMMs (small and medium-sized manufacturers) face when trying to access an established supply chain?
  • How can we lower barriers to accessing new technologies by SMMs?
Session 1: Transitioning makers to manufacturers
  • Democratization of Manufacturing Knowledge
    • Manufacturing 101 Education and Training Modules
    • Software tools on Design for Manufacturing; Intelligent CAD tools
  • Leveraging Existing Resources – Best Practices
  • Role of MEPs
Session 2: Innovative Approaches to Low-Volume Manufacturing
  • Overview of hardware and software challenges
  • R&D for a new-generation of equipment and software to increase the variety and value of what individuals and small teams can design, prototype and manufacture
Breakout: Part 1: Hardware
  • Discuss manufacturing hardware to enable low volume manufacturing (and prototyping)
Breakout: Part 2: Software
  • Discuss manufacturing software tools to enable low volume manufacturing (and prototyping) and small team design
  • Product-specific Apps built on general purpose CAE software
Session 3: Encouraging Formation of Manufacturing Businesses
  • Manufacturing businesses that can be franchised
  • Models that worked (ex; MakeTime.com, Collaborative manufacturing)
  • Role of government (local, state, federal)
  • Reduce the cost of access to and increase the usability of existing manufacturing equipment and processes
Session 4: Lower barriers-to-access to established supply chains for manufacturing entrepreneurs
  • Technical and non-technical barriers to access the supply chain
  • Emerging trends in supply chains
Breakout: Solutions for entrepreneurs to access the supply chain
  • New technologies that are reducing barriers to entry to the supply chain
  • New technologies needed to further reduce barriers to the supply chain
  • Effect of new business models on supply chains