It is quite timely to read of this new book from Chris Anderson, The Editor-in-Chief at Wired Magazine, titled "Makers: The New Industrial revolution". Chris Anderson has been a champion of the Maker community, launching his own startup to tinker around in this space (Read about his collaboration on a arduino based, OpenSprinkler). In this book, he puts forward a case for DIY-manufacturing, made possible due to a convergence of several technologies leveraging a movement towards open innovation. He suggests that with the advent of technologies such as desktop 3D printing/robotic manufacturing and the movement towards open innovation, the speed of innovation in the digital realm, will now flow through to the physical realm. This will allow small to medium scale custom manufacturing to return to the developed economies, which have lost out due to higher labor costs.This trend was also covered by the Economist, when they dubbed it the "Third Industrial Revolution".
He envisions a world with "low barriers to entry, rapid innovation, intense entrepreneurship", which was once the domain of digital businesses, to transform the manufacturing industry, allowing (nimble) developed economies to reduce the labor cost disadvantages.
We hope this 3D printing lab, will be a step in the right direction to equip our students to compete and innovate in such an economy. Since this lab is trying to inform students of a new paradigm of the consumer as a creator, it is good to see such initiatives being promoted in high-schools as well, by none other than ..... DARPA (which was a cause for some concern).