Wednesday, January 20, 2010

In-Situ Ville, 17 Years Later

Fascinated by the potential of 3D printers.

Although CrunchGear reports the demise of Desktop Factory, I met a friend of an open source 3D printer project at the SIUIS4 conference.

3D printers create a solid form "layer by layer" from plastic (for now.)

These flexible gizmos would appeal to the folks back in the day of Drop City and (more likely) the New Alchemy Institute for generating one-off or pre-production prototypes.

One app that appeals to me is the idea of creating the "Shopsmith TNG" for use in extreme or isolated places (like shipboard). I'm provably not an engineer, but the tech suggests rapid lost wax casting of parts, etc.

My concept of in-situ ville came from 1992 working papers and presentations on the interaction of ubiquitous networks presented in New York in 1993 called "The Information Superhighway". Essentially, the forecasting and behaviors of people using networked communications suggested strongly the ability to support smaller-scale communities and businesses. "The arrival of new corner groceries" captured that idea. Now, much more of the future can be shaped with local manufacture and mass customization, often using open source designs and materials/feedstocks coming through a closed loop consumption-distribution-production cycle.

" Metals recirculate on a sum-total-of-all-metals-average every 22 1/2 years....
I was able to arrive at that figure of a 22 1/2-year metals recirculating cycle in 1936. I was working for Phelps Dodge Co., which had asked me to give them some prognostications about the uses of copper in the future of world industry."

R. Buckminster Fuller, Critical Path

Cited by me in "Say watt again. SAY WATT AGAIN" on the subject of Green Computing

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