1st Edition

A New Industrial Future? 3D Printing and the Reconfiguring of Production, Distribution, and Consumption

By Thomas Birtchnell, John Urry Copyright 2016
    146 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    148 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    A New Industrial Future? examines whether a further industrial revolution is taking place around the world. In this compelling book Birtchnell and Urry examine such a new possible future involving the mass adoption of 3D printing. The locating of 3D printers in homes, offices, stores and workshops would disrupt existing systems and pose novel challenges for incumbents. The book drawing upon expert interviews, scenario workshops and various case studies assesses the potential future of global manufacturing, freight transport, world trade and land use. It offers the first book-length social scientific analysis of the character and impacts of a new system of manufacturing that is in formation. The book will be of interest to urban planners, policy makers, social scientists, futurologists, economists, as well as general readers by offering inquiry on this future upheaval in the means of production.

    1. Thinking Additively
    2. A Brief History of 3D Printing
    3. The 3D System
    4. Resources
    5. Transitions
    6. Futurity
    7. Scenarios


    Thomas Birtchnell is a Senior Lecturer in Geography and Sustainable Communities at the University of Wollongong, Australia.

    John Urry is Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Co-Director of the Institute for Social Futures, Lancaster University, UK


    3D printing has become emblematic for deep-seated, ambivalent, and strange changes in our societies. Increasingly accessible, and increasingly powerful, it is unclear whose digital fabrications will be served by this potentially ubiquitous technology. Will it be manufacturers, hackers, makers, the military, peer-producers, or entirely new social figures? And what about relations between capital, labour, consumption and environment? Birtchnell and Urry provide a clear-sighted and measured analysis into these issues. Drawing upon the historical, geographic and social relations shaping the development of this technology, their book navigates some of the futures open to us, and makes clear the social choices involved right now. - Adrian Smith, Professor of Technology & Society, University of Sussex, UK