More than 135 million adults in the United States are makers, according to Time magazine. But what is a maker? Are you one of them?
Your answers to these questions may differ depending on which definition of the Maker Movement you choose to use. These may vary significantly by source.
Techopedia limits the Maker Movement to individuals who create products with electronic components. Adweek, a digital news organization, expands the definition to one that brings together “independent inventors, designers and tinkerers” and both “computer hackers and traditional artisans.”
Avnet Field Applications Engineer, Eric Leahy, defines the Maker Movement even more broadly. “It’s about doing it yourself,” he said. “It’s about going out there and learning and making something and creating something that’s yours, rather than just buying it off the shelf.”
Using this definition, the number of makers in the U.S. can continue to increase significantly. In fact, it means anyone can be a maker and it is even easier than ever to get started.
To show an example, the cost of electronic components has dropped sharply, making the parts needed for maker products more available for individuals looking to get involved. Additionally, advancements in 3D printing have played a major role in the growth of the Maker Movement.
“It’s becoming much, much easier to make a project and then iterate on it quickly,” says Lehey. “3D printing allows someone to come up with an idea, draw it, and create it, and if they don’t like it, fix it real quickly.”
An open-source culture that encourages the sharing of ideas has also made it easier for individual makers to contribute to the movement. Makers have access to the ideas and designs of millions of other makers around the world that they can use to build upon, with both hardware and software freely shared among one another. No longer is access limited to employees in large companies, Eric said.
With all of these factors aligned, it is no surprise that the Maker Movement is growing into a worldwide phenomenon. According to Time magazine, makers contribute $29 billion to the world economy each year, a figure that is projected to continue to increase.
As the maker culture blossoms, the resources and information that makers need have never been more accessible. So, what makes a maker? A desire to make something. That’s it.
Learn how Avnet supports the maker movement
Alexandria Coleman is a member of Tecnica Communications, a student PR team at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications and partner of the Avnet Innovation Lab.