Authors: Paul Smith; Marzia Mortati
Addresses: Department of design, Institute of Design Innovation, Glasgow School of Art, 167 Renfrew Street, Glasgow G3 6RQ, UK ' Department of Design, Politecnico di Milano, Piazza Leonardo da Vinci, 32 Milano 20133, Italy
Abstract: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead. In a post-industrial age, the current model of mass manufacture characterised by integrated organisations and economies of scale, a new production paradigm is emerging. Due to technology advances especially in the field of additive manufacturing (AM), small-scale decentralised production is again a possibility. Where once the tools to produce goods were seen as large capital investment beyond the means of most small enterprises, it is now possible for individuals to access tools that are capable of producing consumer goods. This shift had led to the emergence of a social phenomenon that until now was bound to the digital world. Networks of individuals are coming together to collectively design, develop, manufacture and distribute goods through a network under the banner of the open hardware movement. This paper presents a case study of one such network designing and distributing open-source prosthetics using a collaborative approach enabled by AM technology. It takes a contemporary definition of commons production as a framework to describe the network and assesses the role AM technology plays within it. Moreover, it discusses the potential role for design (both as a discipline and a profession) within this emerging socio-industrial system.
Keywords: additive manufacturing; collaborative commons; design innovation; open hardware; case study; collaboration; prosthetic design; open source prosthetics; commons production; socio-industrial systems.
International Journal of Rapid Manufacturing, 2017 Vol.6 No.2/3, pp.197 - 213
Received: 05 May 2016
Accepted: 31 Oct 2016
Published online: 08 Feb 2017 *