Enthusiasts who want to build the products they want, from shortwave radios to personal computers, and to tweak products they've bought to make them even better, have long been a part of the electronics industry. By all measures, garage-style innovation remains alive and well today, as “makers” as they are called continue to turn out contemporary gadgets, including 3D printers, drones, and embedded electronics devices.
The Maker Faire, which launched in the Bay Area in California in 2006, underlined the popularity of the movement by drawing a record 215,000 people combined in the Bay Area and New York events in 2014, with 44% of attendees first timers at the Bay Area event, and 61% in New York. It proved popular across generations, with 50% attending the event with children. The show will have its tenth year in the Bay Area shortly, running May 16th and 17th .
Meanwhile, these do-it-yourself electronics are proving to be hot sellers on eBay, as fans bid on the products they want, a recent study from Terapeak. In the past year, unit sales for 3D printing related products; Arduino units, parts and supplies; Raspberry Pi boards; drones and quadcopters; and robotics goods are all on a growth curve in terms of eBay sales, Aron Hsiao, Terapeak's marketing manager told EBN in an interview.
“The types of products being sold reminded us of the computer tinkering that used to be happening in the 1970s to 1990s,” said Hsiao. “It's similar in terms of demographics, tending to be young people, and low budget. We found that all categories are growing relatively rapidly and that the market is relatively big.”
At least some of the products being created have potential to become items that are sold and manufacture in a more formal way. “The path between garage and a manufactured product is a lot clearer and smoother than in the past,” said Hsiao. “We know there is crossover from the garage to the startup ecosystem.”
Today, 135 million adults in the United States alone are involved in the maker movement—although makers can be found everywhere in the world. Of course, electronics is just one small piece—with others making jewelry and other kinds of products. However, whether making a new electronics creation or using 3D printers and other high-tech tools to make something else, the do-it-yourself category is deeply intertwined with the electronics industry.
The infographic below outlines the growth of the maker movement. Take a look and let us know how you think makers can influence the electronics supply chain in the comments section below.
— Hailey Lynne McKeefry, Editor in Chief, EBN