As designers, we are all familiar with how difficult it is to push small projects through the vast industrial manufacturing complex. You have the idea, the drawings and the money, but factories have no time or patience for your small run. Or it's difficult to find someone open to having a conversation about the methods available to produce your rather experimental piece.
Well, 100kgarages is here to change all that. A new partnership between Shopbot, manufacturer of digital fabrication tools, and Ponoko, a digital making community, the site aims to form "the largest network for product designs to be made on demand locally," taking cues from Tom Brokaw's question to the presidential candidates in 2007:
Should we fund a Manhattan-like project that develops a nuclear bomb to deal with global energy and alternative energy or should we fund 100,000 garages across America, the kind of industry and innovation that developed Silicon Valley?
100kgarages supports and celebrates the idea of small industry and individual innovation by maintaining a network of "garages," or fabricators, throughout the world. If you have a design ready, you can proceed in one of two ways: either find a local fabricator and work directly with them, or post the job and wait for fabricator bids to roll in. They are beginning with a focus on CNC routers, the most versatile of digital fabrication tools, but hope to incorporate more technologies (like laser cutters and 3D printers), as time goes by.
If you're a Shopbot fabricator be sure to join their network, and if you're a designer, well, it's high time to dust off those shop drawings and go do something with them.