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Hardware Disruption: Same Movie, Different Era (amandapeyton.com)
32 points by inmygarage on Aug 23, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 9 comments

The scale problem still remains. Going from 10 users of your webapp to 1000 does not take much in terms of technology and capital investment. Going from 10 hand-assembled bits of hardware to 1000 units manufactured in China is a difficult and expensive leap.

They're right though, it's definitely going to be a growth market. Looking forward to learning more about what Grand St. is doing.

This post is indicative of where we are on the hype cycle for 3D printing (http://www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=2124315), i.e. right at the peak.

Consumer products are still, and will be for a few years, made in traditional ways. The lower cost of production in China being the biggest factor today for the last step of concept to real.

Pumping money into a sector will accelerate it, but the heating funding environment for hardware isn't a fundamental change.

To draw an analogy to software you really need to compare timescales and access to sufficient technology.

A talented developer can rent sufficient technology to support thousands of customers a day on a website and build the product in a week for a small launch.

On axes of both time and money hardware idea to product are still at least an order of magnitude higher. Which, to be fair, is still much better than it has been, and a welcome evolution of the market.

The main draw of 3D printing isn't to replace the lower cost manufacturing we have in China et al, but to decrease the cost of producing prototypes. As Amanda mentions, this, coupled with a number of other new innovations, will finally allow hardware startups to iterate like their software brethren have done for decades. This can only lead to an explosion in hardware innovation.

Exactly. But why should it be limited to just prototypes?

If I can produce a casing for a development board that looks as good as some overpriced Apple junk or locked down Microsoft OEM crap, there's no need for me to jump through all their silly hoops. I can make my own device to do just the things I want it to do. My way.

re: the electronics of today's hardware: It's all the same stuff, more or less. How many factories are there? How many chipmakers? Oustide of uber-geeks, people are not that fussy about what's on the inside of their devices. Give them the power to make their own gadget that is personalised and programmable, and many of them will have no need to play games with Apple or Microsoft.

So called '3D printers' are actually rapid prototyping machines. Usually of the additive variety. The reason they are called rapid prototype machines is because their capability to is fairly well limited to prototypes. The time required to print an object vs. injection mold an object is at least one order of magnitude apart, for state of the art machines (between many minutes to hours for 3D printers compared with seconds with most injection molding processes). It will be many more years before 3D printers, and especially hobbyist level machines, can produce parts comparable to those made in traditional manufacturing (read: high capital investment) techniques in regards to cycle time, surface finish, variety of material, consistency, and durability.

As I was reading this I was thinking "yeah, that's all great but what about the working capital requirements caused by horrendous retail deals" and then you brought it up. I think a shift in retail philosophy has to happen as online customer acquisition cost is still the white elephant that no one likes to talk about and big chains with high margins, long payment terms and "sale or return" deals are stifling what products can reach the masses.

If these terms can improve then that working capital requirement can drop and then you'll see a much greater impact on the market. I would argue that things like arduino are great for prototyping but they are actually making the electronics design for manufacture step harder as you are one more step removed from the in production components than you would be going down a slightly older fashioned route.

Going from Kickstarter/prototype to China is too big a step. Small companies can not manage the constant hops across the Pacific to keep things moving. Prototyping shops like http://www.techshop.ws/ are/will feed directly into US-based contract manufacturers that specialize in building the supply chain, assembly instructions, QA/QC checks, and the myriad details that can then bridge to China when volumes are sufficient.

I'm interested to see what gets sold here. The open source hardware movement has been awesome, but at the moment, it seems to only have resulted in a large hobbyist movement, and hasn't quite affected mainstream consumers yet. Perhaps these guys are going to partner with some of the more successful kickstarter projects and sell them in one spot?

The arduino seems popular in prototyping and customer validation of commercial products(example: the fitbit), i think some low/medium volume products are using the arduino hw/sw(but you might not know it's there-why should the business owner tell you?), and for high volume products, standard development methods give cheaper products.

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