Read how this Greek initiative is using creativity and innovations¬† to remake a social system that has been torn apart by the economic crisis. – Alexander Baloche
The economic situation in Greece has made life in our small country increasingly difficult. As such, one would not see these times as fertile grounds for exploring new technologies and¬†intensifying research, since minimal quality of life is barely achievable. Yet this is not the case when it comes to exploring open sourced, 3D printing technologies in Greece.
My personal experience is mostly from an architectural point of view since that is my profession, but I have had more experience with 3D printing for the last five years, from Barcelona’s Fablab to my own creations in Athens, Greece.
Before I acquired my own Ultimaker I had worked with 3D printers such as the Replicator from Makerbot, Zcorp’s Z510 and HP’s Designjet. From the first moment, this technology was astonishing. As soon as I started my own space in Greece, I ordered my own Ultimaker since I was amazed by the quality, print size and speed that the UM could achieve, as a low-cost 3D printer. It was my first put-it-together printer (Spring of 2012) since then I have bought 2 more UM’s and assembly is becoming a habit.
3D Printing in Greece is in its embryonic stage but from what I have seen, the message is hopeful to say the least. When returning from a fully organized MIT’s FabLab like the one in Barcelona, I was not expecting to find anything similar in my country. However, I was proven wrong. I was contacted by the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) that was starting a FabLab, in collaboration with the p2p community and the creative commons, this Fablab will be inaugurated this month (February 2013). With the NTUA we have made a joined order for a new Ultimaker, that will be used together with the rest of the equipment in the School of Architecture, for research purposes both from students of the Architects school, as well as individuals.
Together with the on-line Journal Re-public, that was facing great financial problems as well as most press related organizations in my country, we organized a publication of some interesting papers regarding 3D printing and the political economy of this new technology. All papers were published on-line, since the journal barely managed to keep their on-line space active. Even this step was considered a victory, even if we did not achieve paper-print publication.
Later the same year (2012), I together with Vasilis Kostakis, (Phd political economist and author of the book “P2P manifesto“) made a second order for an Ultimaker for a newly established media Lab situated in Ioannina, a northwest city of Greece, the p2p Lab (greek). The purpose of this lab is to integrate open sourced research and projects with the city and bring fresh new minds into a design-and-fabricate yourself environment. Our country is in need of cheap and smart system solutions and 3D printing is definitely the tool to achieve this.
One of the first 3D printing research and fabrication program that is being run at the moment, is based on a proposal I made during my Master thesis in Spain (IAAC 2010-11) regarding a low-cost effective wind turbine that is distributed under a creative commons license over the Internet. Most of it can be produced with a 3D printer (accept the electrical parts) making the project very low cost. Projects of this caliber are important since they are an easy and cheap solution for everyday needs that are becoming difficult for a increasingly big portion of my country.
We are currently working to bring the two Fablabs closer together, so that we can create an inspirational axis of open sourced research and innovation that will help produce new ideas, and projects that can be 3D printed at low-cost, and can help a decaying economy such as ours. We belief that in these times of distress the true potential of 3D printing can be shown.