Are we aware of the societal impact of Additive Manufacturing technologies?

Co-chairs: Tino Stankovic, Nicholas Meisel, Serena Graziosi

Disruptive technologies, to be as such, exert profound and deep changes in society. In teleological sense, disruptive technologies abruptly replace the underlying principles to achieve a specific purpose in benefiting humanity with more novel, efficient means. This thereby transforms the way we work, behave, and interact with the environment. It should directly or indirectly shape multiple contexts, industrial fields, and best practices. It should address key societal pillars such as health, environment, nutrition, well-being, humans’ equality, and should promote the beauty of humans’ diversity. It should thus significantly contribute to solving urgent societal challenges and needs. 

Can additive manufacturing (AM) technologies therefore be considered disruptive? Since their first diffusion, AM technologies were characterized by the word “freedom”, i.e., freedom in design to generate new solutions that were previously unattainable due to fabrication limitations. How much has our perception of AM technologies changed so far both in general terms and the specific context of the design? What is our attitude towards AM technologies; are those just means for us to exploit, or do we need to understand and consider a broader context involving both the society and the ecosystem in which that society thrives, or should thrive? Thus, the question of freedom associated with AM technology is much more than a freedom to design beyond conventional, it involves the questions of proper exploitation of a technology, barriers to implementation, effects on other technologies, and its accessibility and democratization. 

This workshop will encourage participants to reflect on the societal impact of AM technologies. How can AM technologies be utilized in contributing to solving global challenges and improving societal well-being, involving personalized healthcare, preparation and distribution of food, provision of adequate housing, the development of 3rd world countries, or enabling of green technologies? How can researchers, manufacturers, end-users strengthen their societal contribution through design? The audience will be guided towards these thoughts and will be pushed to reflect on how they can contribute to these changes through their research activities. Lectures and group discussions will be used to create awareness of the long-term outcomes of design for AM and identify both direct and indirect impacts of AM technology on society.


Monday, August 16, 2021

The 23nd International Conference on Engineering Design, 16 - 20 August 2021

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