maker movement

The maker movement is a cultural trend that places value on an individual's ability to be a creator of things as well as a consumer of things.  

In this culture, individuals who create things are called "makers." Makers come from all walks of life, with diverse skill sets and interests. The thing they have in common is creativity, an interest in design and access to tools and raw materials that make production possible.  

The growth of the maker movement is often attributed to the rise of makerspaces -- community centers where makers can go to access tools that would otherwise be inaccessible or unaffordable. Peer education and opportunities for collaboration are important maker tools, as are access to digital fabrication tools such as 3D printers, laser cutters, CAD software and computer numerical control (CNC) milling machines.

While the majority of makers are hobbyists, entrepreneurs and small manufacturers are also taking advantage of the classes and tools available in makerspaces. The maker movement is international, promoted by magazines, conventions, video channels and Web-based marketplaces. The movement is growing rapidly and is expected to be economically disruptive; as ordinary people become more self-sufficient, they will be able to make their own products instead of purchasing brand-name products from a big box store.

In the United States, the maker movement has been promoted by the government as a way to encourage students to become more interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and as a way for ordinary citizens to revitalize manufacturing.

This was last updated in June 2014

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