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Europe really believes in 3D printing

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The Makers movement began in the USA with the creation of FabLab, but has also seen considerable growth on the other side of the Atlantic. The secret of its success lies in the people involved and the networks built up between them. Within Europe, there is room for a new industrial revolution. Indeed, in some cases this is already taking place, but not everyone has realised it. This is also true in Italy, where innovation often fails to get the recognition it deserves.

And yet, despite these difficulties, there is no lack of courage in the nation of Leonardo. As Massimo Banzi wrote in CheFuturo! in 2012:

“If they give me 1 million Euros, we’ll open 15 Arduino Workshops within a year”.

Such an idea would be really successful, you only have to look at the makers in action in Florence, or witness the energy of the Cantini family, the digital craftsmen behind Kentstrapper. And then there are also all the figures.

Investments: France is prepared to finance projects by the new FabLabs (ateliers de fabrication numérique), providing funding of 50,000-200,000 Euros over a period of three tax years. All information is available here, and presentations must be submitted by September 13th 2013.

Industry: A study by IDTechEx describes a rapidly growing market for professional 3D printing. In 2025, its global value could reach $4 billion. These are only projections, but some people believe in it. The UK has put forward an investment plan of nearly £15 million into the digital production industry.

Fashion and art: 3D printing does not only consist of home-made plastic objects. The hybrid dress of fashion designer Iris Van Herpen went on the catwalk in Paris, and the technological artefacts of the Japanese artist, Mariko Mori, embellished a production of Madame Butterfly at Venice’s “La Fenice” theatre. New technologies combined with traditional ones can result in some unique creations.

People and communities: According to FabWiki, there are now 132 FabLabs (specialist workshops for makers and creative types) throughout Europe. Most of these places have very active collaborators and backers: as demonstrated in the trip by our video makers, Alice and Davide, who visited various workshops and told their stories during the course of their Makertour. It is people, not technologies, which bring about change.

credits: Andrew Spitz / Loci

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