Design mobilities via 3D printing



Publication Details

Birtchnell, T., Urry, J. & Westgate, J. (2017). Design mobilities via 3D printing. In J. Spinney, S. Reimer & P. Pinch (Eds.), Mobilising Design (pp. 76-86). United States: Taylor and Francis.


In this chapter we take on board the challenge to explore how mobility has "emerged as an object of knowledge", and how forms of mobility aregiven meaning through design knowledge materialised into physical objects. In order to do so, we examine debates around the mass manufacturing and spread of 3D printers; products that allow individual users to print their own objects with potential consequences for current concentrated systems of production. We argue that stakeholders give meaning to the potential dispersal of design embodied in the 3D printer through discourses of education, empowerment, and democratisation. The chief argument is then that the 3D printer as an artefact "mobilises design" because of its potential to enable design knowledge to travel, disperse and be customised, in this instance from something done by designers in studios to consumers at home or in print shops or spaces near at hand.

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