Made in Manchester

Co-design took a step closer to world domination today with the opening of the Manchester Fab Lab – the first US-style democratised ’factory’ to hit the UK.

The ‘factory’ in the city’s Ancoats area is unlikely to create another Industrial Revolution up North, in England’s one-time manufacturing heartland, but it might encourage local would-be inventors and school kids to test out their ideas in 3D.

But what will the farming community make of it? There is, after all, acres of land not that far from the city centre. If, as the Financial Times infoms us, shepherds in Norway have used a Fab Lab to create mobile phones to enable them to track sheep.

And local designers? Well, they are hardly under threat from the wildest excesses of boffin brains and they even get a facility to try out concepts themselves – east London’s Metropolitan Works has proved a godsend with its prototyping  and other production facilities.

Think too of all the packaging and promotions successful products might require. With a healthy cache of design talent in Manchester, it can only bring out the best in consultancies’ new business folk keen to get in on the act.

The launch coincides with publication a Consumer Innovation Survey from the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, which indicates that some three million people in the UK already create or modify products for themselves. So we can look to Manchester’s ‘male, young, employed’ people – the group deemed by Nesta to be most active in making things – to boost the city’s manufacturing output.

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