Have you ever watched someone bend up a new exhaust pipe with an automatic pipe bender? Feed in the right numbers with a length of straight pipe and presto, exhaust pipe, exactly like the factory piece. Think about that. As long as you have the right numbers for the machine, you can make any pipe for any car, and what does that have to do with motorcycles?
For quite a few years now, all major manufacturing has used computer controlled machinery in the construction process, turning out exact replicas of each piece, joining the pieces into a functioning assembly and connecting the assemblies to build the product, like a car or motorcycle or anything else. The more versatile the machine and the more comprehensive the control data, the more pieces and products you can build.
A number of articles have come out recently pointing to one company or another building a “brand new” product that has been out of production for many years, the only requirement is that enough people demand the part or parts to make the reproduction profitable. (Started thinking about this over the weekend when I saw a brand new 1948 Vincent engine for sale.) Suppose, however, creating the parts is just a “feed in the numbers” process and the machine does the work, as long as you have the numbers, you create or recreate anything you want, “Manufacturing On Demand.”
Amazon does this with books, many of their less in demand books are printed on demand, when you order, they print. Never out of stock, every word from the original and delivered to your door. Manufacturing is a bit more complex of course but the idea still holds. All of the data is there for recent products and it can be found for many older products, measuring from an existing example if necessary, and once the numbers are in the computer, the part becomes perpetual, manufactured on demand.
What does this mean? It can already be hard to tell originals from fakes, I remember hearing a joke about old fuelie Corvettes, “Yep, they made 2500 of them and there’s only 4500 left.” (My numbers may be off, but you get the idea.) But, it also creates a perpetual market for these old products for people who want to have the original experience, without the worn out problems. Order up a brand new Brough Superior or Velocette. Of course the lawyers and trademark guys will go nuts and we’re not quite there, … yet.
It’s neat to think about though.