Why are we building this?

By Dominic Muren  -  On 09 Jan, 2013 -  3 comments

Whether they are professionals or hobbyists, in DUMBO or Dharavi,we think Makers can drive all kinds of new solutions to pressing problems around the world. But to do this, they need to be better connected. We’re building Alchematter to do just that — after all, none of us is as smart as all of us.

Alchematter helps makers to better harness this collective potential in 4 ways:


Store designs as modular procedures built by describing materials, and techniques that transform them sequentially into some final material configuration. Since these materials, techniques, or tools can be saved for use later, posting new procedures is simple and fast.


All procedures on Alchematter is fully Open Source Hardware, which makes it possible for users to quickly copy materials, techniques, and tool definitions into their own profiles for use in new procedures. Alchematter will start with a powerful web interface, but over time we plan to roll out new interfaces to the database to help users access descriptions through other devices like SMS enabled phones. We want to ensure that anyone, anywhere has the most possible designs from which to draw the solution to their local problem.


Alchematter’s modularity makes it easy to change one piece of a design to make something new. Or to grab an entire branch of a procedure (say, how to make a glue, or mill a board) and graft it into a new one. Or even to squish together two existing procedures: Powerwheels + Car Battery + Lathe Motor = Amazing!!


Even with easy description and modular remixing, there are still some materials, techniques, and tools which aren’t available to makers. Some are too big and expensive (like injection molding machines). Some are too toxic to want to work with (like vinyl chloride monomer). And some — like a CNC crochet machine — just don’t exist yet. Alchematter gives makers the opportunity to propose hypothetical pieces of procedures: Maybe a new tool, or material, or a simpler technique. Once exposed, these opportunities are much more likely to be worked on, and even solved, by other makers.

For all the power of Alchematter, we still believe that the most important thing that Makers around the world have to offer is their boots-on-the-ground knowledge of problems worth solving. We love the old saying “Think Globally, Act Locally”, but we think Alchematter can give thinking globally a new spin. Imagine an R&D lab composed of makers around the world, pooling their minds and sharing their output.

That’s Alchematter: the biggest R&D skunkworks in the world, working to give makers like you the most options from which to choose a solution that works locally. Welcome to the crew.