Unver, Ertu, Marshall, Justin, Dean, Lionel Theodore and Atkinson, Paul (2008) Automake/FutureFactories. Hub: National Centre for Craft & Design. ISBN 9780954801571

There's a rough and ready timeline to the designing and making of objects. Until the invention of machines and appropriate power sources in the 1700s, everything in our world was made by hand or by machines that replaced hand movements but were still slow and limited.

The Industrial Revolution changed our very thinking. Entrepreneurs could imagine products, then commission designers and factories to produce those products in any number, the more the better. The cost of each object equated to the scale of manufacture.

Our whole society changed because of those new scales of manufacture. Although there are many disadvantages, mass production systems have led to a world full of unimaginable wealth. compared to just a century ago.

A number of designers and thinkers about design, who have seen that new technologies aren't dependent on high scales of production to be economically worthwhile. Rapid manufacture machines can in effect make one object for the same unit cost as thousands. All depends on the design system.

It will be a good while before the technologies of manufacture are fully understood but we can relatively soon arrive at a time when objects are manufactured to our individual specification with remarkable flexibility. At the moment we can commission highly individual design but at a premium. The new technologies can dramatically reduce the premium.

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