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NPR's Adam Davidson extolls the virtues of the "craft economy" in which small firms provide...

NPR's Adam Davidson extolls the virtues of the "craft economy" in which small firms provide customized products - sometimes handmade - for less price-sensitive consumers. While it's far less stable, the sector "is showing how American manufacturing can compete in the global economy."
Comments (16)
  • PalmDesertRat
    , contributor
    Comments (2587) | Send Message
     
    Thomas Jefferson is smiling on you,Mr. Davidson
    19 Feb 2012, 08:26 AM Reply Like
  • wyostocks
    , contributor
    Comments (7628) | Send Message
     
    NPR and the NY Times, a marriage made in Washington.
    19 Feb 2012, 10:12 AM Reply Like
  • OptionManiac
    , contributor
    Comments (3304) | Send Message
     
    Listen to Planet Money on NPR and you will get great explanations of the past years' economic debacles, including Greece.
    19 Feb 2012, 11:55 AM Reply Like
  • Thought Crime
    , contributor
    Comments (57) | Send Message
     
    And don't forget your kerosene lamp.
    19 Feb 2012, 10:29 AM Reply Like
  • D_Virginia
    , contributor
    Comments (2280) | Send Message
     
    While I don't see this really scaling to the point where it impacts the economy, a related trend to watch is the 3D printing industry.

     

    As this technology comes down in price and improves in capability, it can be used to create custom parts and devices without the need for economies of scale.

     

    Better yet, additive manufacturing techniques can create parts that traditional manufacturing literally is incapable of producing.

     

    It is this kind of innovation that might make American competitive in certain segments of the manufacturing industry.
    19 Feb 2012, 10:32 AM Reply Like
  • anonymous#12
    , contributor
    Comments (552) | Send Message
     
    D_Virginia, here is a good read on 3D printing:

     

    http://bit.ly/xzEDt6
    19 Feb 2012, 10:57 AM Reply Like
  • anonymous#12
    , contributor
    Comments (552) | Send Message
     
    My apologies, that wasn't the link I was going to put in the first place, here is the one I intended:

     

    http://econ.st/yry8uN
    19 Feb 2012, 11:06 AM Reply Like
  • D_Virginia
    , contributor
    Comments (2280) | Send Message
     
    And for the visually inclined, here's a pretty good (if somewhat poorly presented) video on 3D printing:

     

    http://bit.ly/xKdseo
    19 Feb 2012, 11:23 AM Reply Like
  • wkl
    , contributor
    Comments (289) | Send Message
     
    When I read the headline "craft economy", my first thought was "Whow mon me be happy, We all gonna be basket weavers".
    19 Feb 2012, 11:32 AM Reply Like
  • Windsun33
    , contributor
    Comments (4254) | Send Message
     
    I used to know a woman who made around $80K a year making custom baskets and similar plant-weaving things. :)

     

    That was some 15 years ago, so most likely she would now be barred from picking plants by the EPA...
    19 Feb 2012, 12:28 PM Reply Like
  • OptionManiac
    , contributor
    Comments (3304) | Send Message
     
    I have a friend who works in a small firm that assembles custom circuit boards for lotto machines. China can't compete with the small scale operations.
    19 Feb 2012, 12:00 PM Reply Like
  • JohnLocke
    , contributor
    Comments (381) | Send Message
     
    So we come back full circle now?

     

    The quality and necessity of our early craft economy is what led to the industrial revolution, now that we have been priced out of Industry we head back to whence we came...
    19 Feb 2012, 12:01 PM Reply Like
  • OptionManiac
    , contributor
    Comments (3304) | Send Message
     
    It's called adapting.
    19 Feb 2012, 12:07 PM Reply Like
  • Windsun33
    , contributor
    Comments (4254) | Send Message
     
    This is really nothing new. The tools of the trades have changed and for the most part gotten a lot better, but there has always been a market for custom made items and small production runs. But even there, the level of skills required has risen - 100 years ago some auto parts prototypes were actually carved by hand in balsa wood. Now they use micro-CNC machines and 3D printers and computer controlled sewing machines.
    19 Feb 2012, 12:33 PM Reply Like
  • +GF+
    , contributor
    Comments (263) | Send Message
     
    Haas have the office mill and office lathe that run on 230V single phase and fit through a doorway :
    http://bit.ly/yfQAhO
    Good encouraging article !
    One of our customers ( hand tools ) gets
    sourced locally and can launch a new product within 8 weeks.
    From China would be 8+ months.
    Glad we stayed open, business has been good.
    19 Feb 2012, 04:01 PM Reply Like
  • bob adamson
    , contributor
    Comments (4555) | Send Message
     
    A couple of comments are in order here:

     

    1. It is the small (less than 50 employees) and new start-ups (less than 5 years old that over the past decade or so have been the source of about 75% of new jobs in the North American economies. This goes some way to explain why the credit crunch following the 2008 meltdown caused such a spike in unemployment.

     

    2. It is these small niche enterprises that are most immune to off-shoring while, at the same time, by reason of the internet, many can develop markets nationally and internationally.
    19 Feb 2012, 09:47 PM Reply Like
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