1st Edition

The Sociomaterial Construction of Users 3D Printing and the Digitalization of the Prosthetics Industry

By David Seibt Copyright 2023
    274 Pages 39 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book explores the intricate connections that link the current digitalization of manufacturing to our daily lives and identities as members of highly technologized societies.

    Based on extensive research on the prosthetics industry in Germany, the US, Canada, and Haiti, the author analyzes the sociomaterial construction of users, by demonstrating the ways in which the introduction of 3D printing changes how artificial limbs are designed, manufactured, distributed, and used. Critically examining the capacity of digital technologies to afford greater diversity of user roles, enable the inclusion of marginalized groups, and increase user participation in the innovation process, the author presents a theory of user construction that sheds light on the dynamic relationship between industrial digitalization and the future of use.

    An empirically grounded and conceptually informed study, The Sociomaterial Construction of Users will appeal to researchers in the fields of sociology, science and technology studies, and organization studies, as well as readers interested in 3D printing and the digitalization of society.

    1. Introduction: How Do User Roles Change in Digitalizing Industries?

    2. Theoretical Foundations of Industrial User Construction

    3. Methods for Studying Industrial User Construction

    4. Designing Technology: User Representation and Inscription

    5. Distributing Technology: Mediation between Industry and Users

    6. Using Technology: Between Re-Interpretation and Re-Inscription

    7. Digitalization and the Future of Use


    David Seibt is a post-doctoral research associate at the Institute of Sociology, Technical University of Berlin, Germany.

    This is an ambitious book focusing on how an industrial field (prosthetics) constructs a new ‘user landscape’ upon digitalized production. It elaborates how new production processes shape the envisioning of users and the evolution of userships. In doing so, it gives important clues as to why some rather than other technological visions lead to realized outcomes in the midst of all the buzz and grand claims that accompany novel production technologies such as additive manufacturing.

    Sampsa Hyysalo, Professor of Codesign, Aalto University 

    This book is a fine piece of intellectual craftsmanship that combines three key STS topics in a highly elucidating study of 3D printing in prosthetics: The role of users in innovation, the digitalization of industrial production, and the rise of open source communities. Written in an admirable scholarly prose, The Sociomaterial Construction of Users suggests an instructive and generalizable analytics and presents an enlightening case of the manifold interactions between digitalizing industrial organizations and their users, hence: of technology in society.

    Sabine Maasen, Professor of Science Studies and Innovation Research, University of Hamburg