The ideal manufacturing and production of whatever we need would be local and involve very little transportation. New things can even be built from unneeded old things. Alongside this would be access to the collective “build wisdom” of all people, using online libraries of templates and blueprints, freely accessible from anywhere.
Open Source Ecology
The “Global Village Construction Set.” This is a database of open-source hardware blueprints showing how to build and (crucially) maintain important machinery, including houses, trucks, generators, drills, power supplies, solar and wind equipment and much more—without getting entangled in proprietary and expensive brands and dealerships.
3D printing model databases
This is a short list of websites holding online databases of blueprints and designs to be downloaded for creation using your local 3D printer. As the technology evolves, so do the possible uses and applications, including making spares for all kinds of things.
CNC files to download
Here’s a list of database sites of patterns and blueprints for CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machines. CNC is the automated control of machine tools to cut and engrave wood, metal, acrylic, leather and just about anything else using blades or lasers. Machines are available for almost any scale of work imaginable.
Selective Laser Sintering
It’s not just plastic—sintering is a process of heating and compressing a powder, including many metal alloys, to create items with a wide range of properties, including high strength and/or high elasticity. Like all of these technologies, the price will very likely drop while the functionality increases over time.
Small scale circuit board building is also possible. This UK company provides machines to create printed circuit boards one at a time from a small desk space.
Precious Plastic is a Dutch company specialising in small-scale plastic recycling machines which you assemble yourself. This is one way that we can locally turn what we don’t need into what we do need. Again, the technology and range of materials that this can apply to will inevitably progress over time.
This is one company swimming in a different direction in the phone market. Not only is the Fairphone made using as much Fair Trade labour and components as currently possible but it is also designed to last—it can be physically upgraded, repaired and improved with the individual parts being available and easily changed around.
Yes, really—Ford has made open source patterns freely available for home production of many accessories for their trucks. Can you imagine the shift if (when) this becomes a widely adopted practice for future manufacturing—including spare and replacement parts? Obviously it’s important that crucial vehicle parts have consistent integrity but many items are less demanding than this and there may well be innovations that allow highly consistent local production and testing of more demanding items.