37signals, the creators of Basecamp and other slick Web2.0 wares, has a post on their blog about how their software links up trendy, vinyl toy designers from Kidrobot in New York with Chinese manufacturers for cheap.
For 100 US dollars per month, “his team uses
Basecamp to share Illustrator files with engineers in China who
transform them into clay or wax models. One week later the models
arrive in New York. With Basecamp acting as the messenger, the two
sides repeat the back-and-forth until the toys meet Budnitz’s approval.
The final design — along with specs for paint and form-fitting
packaging — is then uploaded to Basecamp, and 30 days later finished
toys march off production lines in China.”
The blog post compares this speedy manufacturing process with that of Mattel and Hasbro. But my question is, with the scale of Mattel and Hasbro and their more complex products, does such a hands-off approach make sense? In other words, is this an example of what is to come for all manufacturing or just for small, simple orders?