Visiting Researchers

Visiting researchers

SHHM recently played host to a group of researchers from France, interested in what the cities of tomorrow will look like. Lots of interesting discussion about the rise of hackspaces and FabLabs, and the inexorable spread and improvement of tools that make the design, prototyping, and manufacture of widgets easier for everyone. Interim conclusion: the cities of the future will look much the same, but also very different. So that’s that sorted.

2 thoughts on “Visiting Researchers

    • We didn’t reach a single conclusion in the time, and of course we didn’t all agree anyway :).

      All sorts of technologies are developing to make prototyping and manufacture-on-demand easier, but how much will this affect ordinary people?

      Most people don’t have much use for a steady stream of plastic trinkets into their house, so perhaps 3D printers will never be a “one in every home” sort of thing. But perhaps there’ll be more and more FabLab-style businesses, offering printing and one-off manufacture of parts (cabinet knobs, vacuum cleaner parts, occasional ornaments…) in the same way that Staples and other print shops offer print services now?

      One possible driver of adoption mentioned was toys! Kids of a certain age would *love* a stream of new toys hot off the press. But would Mattel, Disney et al then drive hard to have printers locked up with DRM?

      If neighbourhood manufactuaries do emerge, can this change supply chains? Could an IKEA, for example, become a warehouse full of wood stock and a robotic router/mill/printer and cut out your flatpack from a pattern while you wait? It’s hard to believe that the economics of that will work out, but who knows?

      Also mentioned were custom-printed medical devices (not just prosthetics, but also casts and joint supports), and the emerging ability to “print” living tissue to create replacement organs or possibly animal-free meats.

      …this is all off the top of my head, and I’m sure others will remember the conversations differently. Definitely an interesting afternoon!

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