This article by Mariano Fressoli (STEPS América Latina) and Adrian Smith (SPRU/STEPS) considers whether 3D printing signals a technological revolution for Latin America.
Published in the 50th Anniversary issue of the journal of the Institute for the Integration of Latin America and the Caribbean, a unit of the Inter-American Development Bank, they caution that, like other technological revolutions, the causes and consequences of 3D printing are socially shaped.
The paper goes on to explore some of the possible paths of development of digital manufacturing in Latin America. In particular, they present some of the uses and actual development of digital manufacturing in the region, looking at both the formal spaces for research and development, such as universities, companies and laboratories public R & D; as well as more informal experimentation places such as FabLabs and makerspaces.
They argue that that digital manufacturing can generate new opportunities for social and economic development in the region. However, they emphasise that people have to be involved in the social shaping of technological design, application, and control in order to develop the technologies in a manner that is socially just and environmentally sustainable.
One place where interesting possibilities are opening up for this kind of exploration and debate is in makerspaces and other grassroots innovation initiatives using this technology.
The article is published in Spanish in the journal Integración & Comercio.