The Maker movement has rejuvenated a love of manufacturing in the United States. Coupled with 3D printing and low cost CNC milling and laser cutting, some hope that we’ll also see a reshoring of labour in the country as well. SyncFab, which just (in terms of time and money) successfully completed a round of funding on Kickstarter, is a case in point.
The company was started by more than a few idealists. Jeremy Goodwin was the CEO of China Advanced Construction Materials Company, Inc. Nick Agid is a product designer and former professor of the Made-in-LA program at the Pasadena Art Center College of Design and Otis College of Art and Design. The rest of the team is made up of younger blood with a great deal of passion for 3D design. Together, they are on the road to what they believe to be a specialized manufacturing renaissance in Southern California.
Now that the Kickstarter campaign (see video above) has finished having tipped over its goal, SyncFab has the $25k in capital to get running with a hybrid manufacturing platform meant to help Southern Californians tackle specialized projects. The emphasis for SyncFab, then, is local and hybrid. Seeing that both 3D printing and subtractive manufacturing have their strengths and weaknesses, the company is enlisting service providers of both processes throughout Southern California to fabricate goods for local customers. On top of that, the company is recruiting designers and engineers in the region to perform CAD services, making SyncFab a one-stop-shop for all parts of a given speciality project. I say speciality project because the company seems to be more focused on the ability of small firms to produce customized goods for individual clients, rather than mass manufacturers. Altogether, it might look something like this:
You can think of the company as a network of designers, engineers and speciality manufacturers that Southern Californians can turn to, to have their unique projects realized. And, to the members of SyncFab, there’s no place better to kick off their model of local, specialty fabrication than the Golden State. As Goodwin puts it, “California is the design innovation center of the global economy; the USA is at the epicenter of 3D Print and Hybrid Specialty Fabrication and SyncFab is a platform bringing them together for your custom creations.” In addition to the perfect location, however, the company believes that they have the perfect model for success.
Because SyncFab wants to connect a community of service providers to local clients, they see themselves as using a Community to Creator or C2C model, instead of a business-to-business or business-to-consumer model. And 3D printing plays a prominent role, as Goodwin puts it, “Our goal is to leverage 3D Print technology to restore the value chain interruption between product innovation and production to emphasize local ecosystems of sustainable production benefitting recent graduates, small businesses and the self-employed.”
In other words, distributed manufacturing will keep manufacturing local. By using SyncFab’s network, you can ensure that you are working with local talent that produces your products locally. SyncFab, in some ways, resembles 3D Hubs, or other distributed fabrication networks, on a less macroscopic level. While sites like makexyz, 3D Hubs, or maker6 attempt to connect a worldwide network of 3D printers, SyncFab performs the much-needed work of consolidating Makers in a specific region. As more and more 3D printers come online, a more organized network will be needed.
This is especially true if distributed manufacturing (and distributed everything) replaces what we have now. We’ll need a meta network to organize all of the subnetworks. And, if we disperse into a true anarcho-syndicalist state, there will be committees, subcommittees, local committees for every club and guild imaginable! If my visions of the future are correct, SyncFab will only be the beginning of a local manufacturing network and we’ll see others like it pop up around the world.
If you’re a designer in Southern California, you can sign up to be a part of this network with SyncFab’s Designer Interest List. If you’re a 3D print shop, or other service provider, you can sign up on their General Interest List. If you’re outside of the Golden State, just wait a bit longer and something similar is sure to spring up in your neck of the woods any day now.