A MakerBot 3D Printer makes a cameo appearance in this video (@2:16) about eliminating waste through upcycling.
It’s great to reuse, reduce, and recycle to minimize our impact on the environment. But is there a way to make trash a thing of the past? Graduate students at Ray Kurzweil’s Singularity University think so. Taking lessons from nature, where nothing is wasted, ever, the team dreams of a society where trash is reborn, just as in nature things die and decompose, providing nutrients for new living things. They call this closed-loop process of material renewal the upcycle.
So where do MakerBots fit in? Do-it-yourself 3D printers like MakerBots promote distributed manufacturing. The centralized manufacturing processes we currently rely on are wasteful because products spend 90 percent of their lifetime in transit, according to Singularity U speaker Kausar Samli. That means that for most of their inanimate lives, they are traveling on a boat, in a truck, or flying through the air on a plane, pouring carbon dioxide into the air.
If everyone had their own personal manufacturing facility, the environmental and economic costs of transporting those goods would be virtually eliminated. Although it may be a while before such a considerable change in the manufacture and distribution of goods is implemented on a mass scale, the Upcycle team dreams of bringing 3D printing technology to communities in developing countries as soon as possible. Locals could print their own goods with environmentally friendly bioplastics, making things that were previously economically out of reach newly accessible.
Projects such as the Fab Lab–a mobile manufacturing facility produced by M.I.T.’s Center for Bits and Atoms–are already doing just that. There are 45 labs in dozens of countries around the world, from South Africa to Afghanistan to Austria.
So democratizing manufacturing with 3D printers like MakerBots will not only allow everyone equal access to stuff, it could also help us all be better upcyclers.
|Tagged with||Fab Lab, Kurzweil, M.I.T. Center for Bits and Atoms, Singularity, Upcycle||3 comments|