Sunday, August 17, 2014

INDN 312: 3D Printers In Every Home

The project that I've been developing in this class focuses heavily on the potential of the 3D printing revolution. I'm looking at how this revolution could impact smaller towns in New Zealand. This culture is one which New Zealand's history is heavily steeped in. Small towns formed the basis of our western cultural heritage, often being based around specific resources or commodities that were made, mined, or harvested there. These towns now form the backbone of our agricultural sector, with most farmers using the small towns as their closest port of call for almost anything.

The small town is sadly also seeing a slow demise. The rural-urban shift is a very real global trend. This spells disaster for those who depend on their home town for their livelihood. The reality is a lot of people end up moving to the city after being faced with job difficulties in their home time, therefore further perpetuating the cycle. No one is to blame for this of course, the cities often bring much more excitement as well as more people into people's lives that they might have missed out on otherwise.

The issues that face small towns could possibly be dealt with in part with certain active responses. The opportunities that I see involve using 3d printing as a method for creating new jobs, new opportunities, and new life in a small town. Perhaps by allowing the town to retain and sculpt its own identity, it might encourage more people to engage and stay in their communities. New life could be injected into these townships, and the youth of the towns might be able to find creative outlets for their free time and isolation from the cities.

A concept that was suggested was the potential of letting the towns develop and create a scape that that the big cities don't have. Encouraging technological progression in the small townships could legitimise the towns as a place to stay and live for uncertain people. The utilisation of new technologies would allow the town to develop a progressive cultural and social identity. Using Scion's cellulose-based 3d printing material as well as developing their manufacturing techniques into a system that would allow more more independence from the larger cities, as well as creating an almost self-sustaining system.

3d printing being such a new and minimally adopted technology means that there are definitely going to be some barriers to its widespread adoption. This is almost consistently the way with new, game-changing technology. Hopefully the development of the technology and the acquisition of it into the homes of many would be accelerated with the presence of the internet and the global economy. The ability for everyone to design their own 3d printed objects might be a little much for now, but the potential is that soon 3d modelling knowledge might be as commonplace as knowing how to use a computer. At the very least, the hope is that the basic skill set of 3d printing; utilising it solely as a printer of available designs, would be widespread.

The way that this could be engaged with a small town presents a unique challenge. The idea that this could be a holistically designed system of products and services is an attractive one. But, that said, how would I, a single person accomplish that in such a short time, considering time is running out? The answer would usually be I'd try my damn best, but given that this is one of my last project, I want it to be a really good one. A really good one. That means that I think I need to take a more realistic and considered approach to the project and what it might mean and how it can then be extrapolated and made awesome. More to come soon!

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