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Using digital fabrication tools to provide humanitarian and development aid in low-resource settings

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Corsini, L 
Aranda-Jan, CB 


The emergence of new digital fabrication tools is radically changing the way products are designed and manufactured. Recently the humanitarian and development sector has become interested in how digital fabrication tools (3D printers, laser cutters and CNC mills) can help to address the world’s most pressing problems. The benefits of these technologies have been widely reported in the context of high-resource settings, however there is little understanding about their use in more resource constrained settings. In order to address this gap in knowledge, this paper presents a systematic literature review of digital fabrication-led interventions in the humanitarian and development sector in low-resource settings. The review analyses various applications of digital fabrication tools and introduces six product archetypes that describe approaches for using digital fabrication tools in the humanitarian and development sector. Additionally, the study discusses the key benefits, challenges and enablers associated with using digital fabrication tools in low-resource settings. In conclusion, the review draws attention to the need for more holistic, long-term thinking about the social sustainability of these digital design and fabrication-led interventions.



4404 Development Studies, 44 Human Society

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Technology in Society

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Elsevier BV
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/L504920/1)
The research is supported by funding from the EPSRC Doctoral Training Programme, grant number EP/L504920/1