Collaborative consumption

 

We have been accumulating products that we hardly use for years and years, we buy them, we use them for some time and then, we throw them away; an ever-shorter life cycle for thousands of objects that become waste mountains in the countries around us.

This is the paradigmatic example of electric drills, whose usage time is only 20 minutes in their lifetime. But this situation is changing, and collaborative consumption is rapidly expanding to all consumer goods and services, recovering ethical values that will then be applied to product design.

  More and more people worldwide are questioning our current consumption model. What started as a small change in the consumer habits of some alternative groups is now becoming firmly consolidated. This is due to several factors: the economic crisis in recent years, environmental awareness and the interaction of different social groups through social networks. This can be seen in new interaction forms between those who produce goods or services and those who demand them. And this is how, for example, groups of ecologic farmers have emerged who offer their fruit and vegetables directly to consumer groups with very good value for money. This phenomenon, which reduces the distance between producers and consumers, and eliminates intermediaries, has spread to a wide range of sectors, thus bringing back a largely forgotten concept in our society: sharing. This philosophy has helped to create new platforms that offer new solutions to sharing a trip by car (blablacar.com) a room (airbnb.com), a bicycle (socialbicycles.com) or a tool (snapgoods.com). What was initially a trend in the first decade of this 21st century, we are now witnessing the consolidation of a new type of consumers that are more responsible and eco-friendly, who are not selfishly concerned about storing their possessions, but about sharing them and collaborating with others. As Bryan Walsh already pointed out in Time magazine on 17 March 2011 “Someday we’ll look back on the 20th century and wonder why we owned so much stuff”. Another important aspect is also the fact that collaborative consumption promotes social integration. At a time when we walk through the streets immersed in our thoughts and spend long periods of time working alone, we can suddenly meet people through a mobile application and carpool. This experience will allow us to create new relationships, recover the concept of community and, of course, trust in others. But not all are advantages. Changes are not always easily accepted and we see how the emergence of these new platforms is giving rise to significant conflicts with regulated sectors such as taxi drivers, carriers, hoteliers, shopkeepers, among others, who consider them unfair competition as they do not comply with the regulations that are required from them. There is a largely unregulated legal vacuum that borders privacy on one side and the established system on the other. We consider that collaborative consumption will have a positive influence in design, as it will have to adapt to this new situation to create more durable products that can be easily repaired and are highly efficient, that is, that do not meet the planned obsolescence and, of course, are 100% recyclable. Furthermore, designers will have to develop the services that will be demanded by collaborative consumption, provide solutions to the management of these goods and services with new, fairer and more transparent business models. This is ultimately a new challenge for our profession, whose main aim is to improve people’s life quality. Marcelo Leslabay

Lecturer in Industrial Design, Faculty of Engineering, University of Deusto.
@leslabay

Introductory workshop to industrial design and digital fabrication

Last 31 January, the Faculty of Engineering held an Introductory Workshop to Industrial Design and Digital Fabrication, aimed at future students on the BA in Industrial Design Engineering, who will be starting their studies next September 2015.

During the Workshop, which was taught by lecturers Fernando Cortés, Szilard Kados and Marcelo Leslabay, students designed a card holder using Autocad, personalised it with their names and then printed it in 3D with PLA, a biodegradable plastic from corn or potato starch.

Taller de Introducción al Diseño Industrial y a la Fabricación Digital

MADE IN SPACE

On 21 September 2014, NASA placed the first 3D in orbit, designed to work without gravity, Zero Gravity, which has given way to a new generation of objects made outside Earth, branded Made in Space [1], and laid the foundations for what would soon be the first Fab Lab Space, to build the necessary replacement parts in space missions.

This project was developed within the postgraduate programme of the Singularity University [2] in August 2010 by three young people: Aaron Kémmer –current CEO-, Jason Dunn –Technology Manager – and Mike Chen – Strategy Manager- who created the company Made In Space Inc. so that the future of humanity could expand into space. With this idea in mind, they developed an additive fabrication 3D printer to use in space, an initiative that allows to produce replacement parts for damaged components instead of sending them from Earth. This equipment will obviously help to save time and money in NASA space missions, as it will not be necessary to wait for parts to be made on Earth and sent to space, as is currently the case. The company is currently made up of twenty-five people, including space experts and 3D print developers, who have devoted more than 30,000 hours of testing in four years.

This first version of the Zero Gravity printer is on International Space Station (ISS), orbiting about 400 km from Earth, at a speed of 27,000 km/h, and is serving as a testbed to understand the long term effects that the lack of gravity has in 3D printing. Last 25 November saw the first object made outside Earth, a faceplate for its own printhead, made of ABS plastic embossed with “NASA and Made in Space” to state its geographical and business origin. Astronauts could see that the printer worked well and plastic filaments proved to adhere better without gravity than on Earth. This is why NASA now plans to produce two types of twenty identical objects, some on ISS and others at the company’s headquarters in California, with the aim of analysing their differences and similarities. If these tests obtain positive results, this prototype will be replaced by a much larger printer in 2015, which will be sent to the International Space Station.

Here it should be pointed out that the cost of launching any object into space costs about US$ 10,000 per kg., which means that reducing the printer’s weight translates into significant cost savings. On the other hand, producing parts on demand will no longer require sending out replacement items in case one breaks.  In this regard, NASA has so far spent more than 1,200 million dollars in replacement parts for ISS, most of which will never be used.  Furthermore, it will no longer be necessary to have a stock of replacement parts that take up valuable storage space.  Another difference is the design of parts itself, whose structure must be oversized to resist launch stresses and to be handled on Earth but that will no longer be needed in space as they will not withstand the force of Earth’s gravity. This means that the designed objects to be built in space will be ultralight, thus saving weight on the International Space Station. It is estimated that 30% of parts on ISS will be replaced by 3D printed pieces, in addition to printing the necessary tools to replace them.  This technology will allow astronauts to easily replace lost or damaged pieces, researchers will be able to develop their experiments, and designers will be able to create new types of objects with minimal structures that can only exist in environments without gravity. Another forthcoming challenge, the design of Zero Gravity objects.

 

Marcelo Leslabay

Lecturer in Industrial Design, Faculty of Engineering, University of Deusto.
@leslabay

[1] Made in Space www.madeinspace.us

[2] Singularity University is an academic center located in Silicon Valley that was created by Google and NASA in 2008, with the support of IDEO design study. Its aim is to bring together, train and inspire a group of leaders who strive to understand and facilitate the exponential development of technologies to solve the great challenges faced by humanity. http://singularityu.org