“If we can get to flexible wood, I am totally going to cut my own leg off.”

Ashley Vance’s article in last week’s New York Times paints an enticing picture of a future in which 3d printing can conjure objects before us at the press of a button. A 3d Hewlett Packard in every home will spray up a new pair of Nike shoes in a few seconds. Science nonsense? Some might think so:

“Everyone thought I was a lunatic when we started,” says one entrepreneur.

That was then. Today, commercial 3d business is growing at a pace. In the manner of all rapidly evolving new technologies, unexpected applications are emerging that, says architect Ana Maria Duran, offer a “whole new realm of freedom for design” from the manufacture of bespoke prosthetics to the creation of fine jewellery.

But this is an expensive business. To become a domestic reality, significant breakthroughs are needed, not only in the cost of the printing machinery but also, as design editor Chee Pearlman points out, in the supply of the raw materials.

The answer would appear to be in the production of a “personal recycling machine”, which can take in old items of clothing and domestic bric-a-brac and deconstruct/pulverise these to their raw ingredients. With such a machine, what manner of behaviour change might we experience?

Imagine a world in which materials stay within the confines of home or the local Recycler. Where old becomes new before our eyes. Where technology and ecology combine to produce a common good. Where consumption is both slowed in terms of raw materials and quickened in terms of personal access. Watch closely, because when someone suggests they’d cut off their own leg for the sake of innovation, they might just be driven enough to make it happen.

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One thought on ““If we can get to flexible wood, I am totally going to cut my own leg off.””

  1. This is a great article. The possibilities of 3d business is intriguing, if the envisioned possibilities of this new technology are maximized to capacity. I wonder if this technology could be used to recycle materials from the built environment? If so, it would revolutionize the environmental movement.

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