3D printing and the changing logistics of cities

Authored by: Thomas Birtchnell

Handbook of Urban Mobilities

Print publication date:  June  2020
Online publication date:  May  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138482197
eBook ISBN: 9781351058759
Adobe ISBN:


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Widespread concerns about how and where objects are made mark the global politics of the twenty-first century. Of chief import is whether trends in the decentralization of manufacturing will impact global systems of freight and logistics: the containerization system of transoceanic shipping. An assessment in this handbook chapter is of predictions made on the future importance of the niche technology of 3D printing to production, distribution and consumption. The idea that 3D printers will be able to create objects layer-by-layer from digital designs housed in urban centres radically revises how consumers will engage with materialities of the future. Alongside a resurgence of interest in making and crafting, the reshoring of manufacturing, and low-carbon living, 3D printing technologies herald a paradigm shift in the urban mobilities of objects that demands critical inquiry.

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