Open Design Commons and Distributed Manufacturing

The implications of such a paradigm shift in manufacturing for environmental sustainability are enormous. ‘Because they only use the exact material required, 3D printers could eliminate waste from traditional manufacturing – in which up to 90% of raw material is discarded’ (Webster 2013). In addition to realising economies in the use of raw materials, the type of distributed manufacturing undergirded by RepRap-like 3D printing implies a massive reduction in global transportation costs attendant upon the localisation of production (Rifkin 2011). Clearly, large-scale industrial infrastructures and the mass production model itself are no longer needed if people are able to micro-manufacture whatever they need in the comfort of their homes. And that is good for the environment: unlike large-scale industrial manufacturing, which is based on the cheap availability of fossil fuels, ‘home 3D printing’ is illustrative of an on-demand manufacturing model which emphasises application that is small-scale, decentralised, energy-efficient and locally controlled. Thus, the diffusion of small-sized, affordable 3D printers promotes a model of environmentally sustainable technological and economic development.

Complete article: Open Design Commons and Distributed Manufacturing