Mary SciannaaClick image to enlargeThere's a new sector in manufacturing that is fast becoming a force to be reckoned with:

it's the DIY market with an advanced twist. Known as The Maker Movement and dubbed a new industrial revolution by many, thousands of people across North America enter this sector every year. Some use lasers, waterjets and presses, while others use lathes, mills and drills. Still others use advanced manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing.

That twist? These are short-run type manufacturing operations making customizable products working out of garages, homes and other small facilities. They're manufacturers, but at the micro level, and according to some market data, they're fast becoming an important sector of the manufacturing industry that will impact the economy. In the US alone, currently there are approximately 135 million US adults involved in this sector and the overall market hit $2.2 billion in 2012. That number is expected to rise to $6 billion by 2017 and $8.41 billion by 2020, according to Atmel Corp., a major supporter of the Maker Movement that designs and manufactures microcontrollers. In 2014, US president Barack Obama and the White House recognized the movement by holding its first "Maker Faire" and then in 2015 proclaimed June 12 to June 18 as the National Week of Making.

In Canada, the Maker Movement is also growing. "Makerspaces"–where DIY'ers work in communal places and share machines like 3D printers and other tools–are growing across the country. Toronto and other cities in Canada now hold Maker Faires. Indeed, the last event held in Toronto in 2014 attracted more than 10,000 people.

The Maker Movement is here to stay and it will impact the manufacturing landscape in a major way. The reason this industry is sure to grow is due, in part, to easier access to tools, financing (through successful crowdfunding initiatives) and a ready market of consumers looking for personalized or unique goods. These micro manufacturers will be localized businesses serving local markets but there will be many in communities across Canada and throughout the world. And they won't stay small forever. Indeed, many of them are simply incubators for companies that will grow larger.

These manufacturers won't displace the large manufacturing sector, but they are changing the manufacturing landscape and becoming important contributors to the economy. And perhaps more importantly, this sector is helping to develop skills and expertise of a new generation of people using advanced manufacturing technologies. And this will push the boundaries of manufacturing to create new and better concepts for everyone in this industry. SMT

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