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

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

Invited speakers: Paul Egan, Benjamin Dillenburger, Florian Thieringer, John Gershenson 

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.

The workshop encouraged 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 were guided towards these thoughts and pushed to reflect on how they can contribute to these changes through their research activities. Lectures and group discussions were 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.

The workshop took place online on:

Monday, 16/Aug/2021: 

in the Workshop session (4:30pm - 7:30pm)

@ICED21 conference, Aug 16th – 20th 2021

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