Towards Sustainable Life Cycles of Making in Small Scale Fabrication Spaces

DS 122: Proceedings of the Design Society: 24th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED23)

Year: 2023
Editor: Kevin Otto, Boris Eisenbart, Claudia Eckert, Benoit Eynard, Dieter Krause, Josef Oehmen, Nad
Author: Moore, George Edward (1); Agogino, Alice M. (2); Goucher-Lambert, Kosa (2)
Series: ICED
Institution: 1: Massachusetts Institute of Technology; 2: University of California, Berkeley
Section: Design Methods
Page(s): 3611-3620
DOI number:


Small scale fabrication spaces have shown their potential to support our local supply chains during the collapse of many global supply chain networks at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In anticipation of these spaces becoming more significant in local supply chains, it is increasingly important to reduce their environmental impacts. This work investigates the life cycle of small scale fabrication spaces by interviewing 18 participants from these spaces in the United States. Key insights from the interviews include the following: a) material selection, robust inventory management, and user support for material disposal are factors influencing optimal flow of materials and equipment through a fabrication space; b) lack of information from manufacturers and suppliers is a critical obstacle to achieve optimal use of materials and equipment, and informed decision making related to environmental sustainability and ethical labor practices; c) there are opportunities to take advantage of where financial and sustainability goals align; d) individual motivators for fabrication influences sustainable behaviors; and e) effective education about material and equipment use helps fabrication space users with more sustainable decision making.

Keywords: Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), Sustainability, Human behaviour in design

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