On the way to Manufactory 4.0

The German Craft Council accom­pa­nies manu­fac­to­ries in their tran­si­tion to the digital world. The intro­duc­tion of new tech­nolo­gies in manu­fac­to­ries is not without risk, because it touches the core of the manufactory’s self-under­standing. When imple­menting a digital strategy, it makes sense to proceed care­fully and in controlled steps.

On the way to Manufaktur 4.0.

The German Craft Council networks the actors who can help each other. This is neces­sary. Although crafts­man­ship has once again been attracting a great deal of atten­tion in recent years, manu­fac­tured prod­ucts have become en vogue and synony­mous with “quality”. But it must not be forgotten that despite all the (some­times trans­fig­uring) recog­ni­tion, manu­fac­to­ries are most severely affected by the polit­ical and economic conse­quences of glob­al­i­sa­tion.

Worries about young talent, compe­ti­tion with indus­tri­ally manu­fac­tured competing prod­ucts or the monop­o­li­sa­tion of trade are leading to an economic reality in which manu­fac­to­ries find it diffi­cult to survive. The German Craft Council bundles the inter­ests of manu­fac­to­ries and work­shops in Germany in order to form a coun­ter­weight to glob­ally active compa­nies and to strengthen the local economy.

It is impor­tant for the manu­fac­to­ries to main­tain the envi­ron­mental condi­tions that support them. They want to develop inno­va­tions that drive them forward. Many want to reach buyers in other coun­tries, but continue to produce in Germany, which is not a matter of course. The Design Forum can work to improve the frame­work condi­tions that make this possible.

 

Quo vadis Manufaktur?

The future of manu­fac­to­ries stands and falls with their ability to find a good balance between tradi­tion and new paths. Espe­cially the younger gener­a­tion sees tech­nology as an oppor­tu­nity to make processes more effi­cient in order to start new creative processes. Crafts­man­ship and modern tech­nolo­gies comple­ment each other. The digi­tal­i­sa­tion of design, manu­fac­turing and distri­b­u­tion methods is bringing produc­tion and design closer together again. The sepa­ra­tion of these areas, which emerged in the course of indus­tri­al­iza­tion, seems to be dissolving today. The training of creative craftsmen should recog­nise the poten­tial of global networking and, in future, build up a complex knowl­edge profile for young designers: with qual­i­fi­ca­tions in tech­no­log­ical, craft, economic and creative aspects. The German Craft Council aims to create a new, self-confi­dent profes­sional iden­tity for craftsmen and designers who work region­ally and are inter­na­tion­ally trained and networked.

Knowl­edge of the processing and machining of various mate­rials is funda­mental for designers and manu­fac­turers today. In conjunc­tion with modern tech­nolo­gies such as reverse engi­neering (digi­ti­sa­tion), CAD, virtual reality and today’s addi­tive tooling processes (rapid tooling), the process chain within product devel­op­ment is improved. Further­more, the digital inter­face of gener­a­tive manu­fac­turing machines (Rapid Manu­fac­turing) — such as the various 3D printing processes and their auto­mated manu­fac­turing processes — enables decen­tral­ized, geograph­i­cally inde­pen­dent produc­tion (Cloud Producing).

The use of these processes, which the Master Council summa­rizes under the catch­word “Manu­fac­tory 4.0”, makes economic sense, espe­cially for the produc­tion of very small, precise compo­nents in vari­able quan­ti­ties, for unique pieces in jewellery, watches, porce­lain or in small series produc­tion or the indi­vidual produc­tion of parts with a high geometric complexity, also with addi­tional func­tion inte­gra­tion.