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A factory for the emerging 'makers'

Doug Gross, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Seattle factory aims to help do-it-yourself "makers" create goods
  • The Humblefactory provides tools to small manufacturers
  • "Makers" create what traditional manufacturers can't, or won't, make

(CNN) -- In a world of mass-marketed gadgets designed to be trashed and replaced after a few years, is there room for the Egg-Bot, a machine that lets you design and draw images on ... you guessed it ... eggs?

Or how about the DODOcase, a hand-crafted cover for the iPad and other tablets that can be personalized to look like your favorite book?

Dominic Muren thinks so. That's why he started The Humblefactory.

Located in Seattle, Washington, Humblefactory aims to develop and design tools that help "makers" around the world build items that more mainstream manufacturers can't ... or won't.

From designing actual tools to researching the best ways to create small manufacturing businesses in urban areas, The Humblefactory is designed to spur a movement that, in itself, was spurred by modern business practices.

Muren says that, even with history's largest range of mass-produced products available on the market, they're just that -- mass produced. Consumers, he says, actually have a harder time finding products that suit their personal wants and needs.

Enter the "makers."

Inspired in part by do-it-yourself Bible "Make" magazine and the book, "Makers," that spun off from it, "makers," Muren says, are an emerging subculture of designers and engineers inspired to create with individual interests, not mass-market appeal, in mind.

"In the U.S. and Europe, people are starting to realize that there's this opportunity to make again," Muren said. "I think in the rest of the world, they're kind of like 'Well, isn't it funny you all call this 'making.' We've been doing this forever. That's one of the things that's exciting to me is the meeting of those two places. "

At last Fall's PopTech conference in Camden, Maine, he talked up some of the products that have been created with the help of Humblefactory, and other creations from the "maker movement" including the aforementioned Egg-Bot.

"They sell, actually, quite a lot of them," he said. "Imagine trying to buy one of these at Best Buy. Probably not going to happen."

Or the DODOcase, which he says single-handedly saved a 50-year-old book-binding company in San Francisco and allowed them to add 10 new jobs during the height of the recession.

The maker movement he aims to support, Muren says, isn't just about making new products available. In many cases, he says, it's the creator, not the consumer, who gets the most satisfaction.

"I think that's the fundamental thing behind the wonder in the maker movement," he said. "This idea that, 'Wow ... the difference between nothing and something was me.' "

CNN's John Sutter and Brandon Ancil contributed to this report.