This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration. Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
NEW YORK (
TheStreet) -- Small investors are figuring out that manufacturing is getting a lot like them: small, yet interesting.
It's not news that large tool manufacturers are scrambling for a foothold in a new world of smaller, leaner, more automated top-end manufacturing systems. High-end builders such as Oxnard, Calif.-based
Haas Automation; Rochester, N.Y.-based
Gleason; and Portland-based
Small Parts Manufacturing are turning out a new generation of smart mills, lathes and cutters.
And at least based on what I've seen in the past few months, these tools make what Vinnie Martino of
American Chopper fame use look like high school metal shop.
Bob Bechtold, founder and president of
Harbec, an Ontario, N.Y., high-end prototype tool and injection plastic maker, told me that he predicts a red-hot revolution in smaller manufacturing tools that can be excellent bets for smaller, crowdfund-savvy backers. Bechtold even has a hip brand name for the idea: The "Toolmaker Movement." And it includes a new generation of 3-D printers from the likes of
3-D Systems and Germany's Voxeljet.
To get a feel for how frothy the smaller fab device space is, check out the QU-BD One Up made by Little Rock, Ark., entrepreneur Chelsea Thompson.
Right now on Kickstarter she has fetched north of $226,540 on a $9,000 goal for nothing more than a pretty simple 3-D printer that happens to cost less than $200.
And after three months of speaking with designers, manufacturers and investors, the QU-BD is most definitely not the only opportunity shaping up in crowdfunded manufacturing tools.
"The future will belong to the environmentally sustainable integration of all the parts of the production process by skilled product makers and craftspeople," Bechtel said emphatically."The dumb production line will no longer dominate."
Here are my picks for hot fab tools that should be winners in this new world manufacturing order.