3. the factory floor

The previous two chapters were filled with stories of my personal experiences learning, making mistakes, and growing with the manufacturing ecosystem in the greater Shenzhen area. In January 2013, after I’d learned the ropes, the MIT Media Lab asked me to start mentoring graduate students on supply chain and manufacturing, and I took them on a tour of Shenzhen (the same tour where I met Akiba and visited the USB memory stick factory). This chapter is an attempt to distill everything I taught over a course of weeks into a couple dozen pages.

The challenges and trade-offs in low-volume manufacturing are different from those of well-funded corporate exercises that prototype at the scale of thousands of units. I learned this ...

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