The Practicalities of Circular Makespaces

From our makespace visits and in-situ, interviews and mapping (details of our approach are outlined in our previous blog) and our expert interviews conducted, we have begun to uncover some key insights, challenges, opportunities and ultimately practicalities around makespaces and their possible role in the circular economy and redistributed manufacturing.

The underlying openness and willingness to embrace new ideas as the nature and ethos of the makespace community, definitely indicated a strong potential for further integration of circular practice and sustainability principles through practical solutions at all levels, from modules in induction manuals, guidance and tutorials, local supplier/ecosystem databases and the potential to use communication tools (signage, ‘show & tell’, regenerative narratives) as a means to trigger better practices. Moreover, the potential to integrate, share and diffuse good practices through existing digital networks (and enhancing these) increases the chances of successful dissemination. The more these activities link to other ones that are seen as vital for the running, development and survival of the makespace, the more likely they will be considered and integrated.

From the initial motives and vision of the makespace to the practicalities of day-to-day running and continued existence, makespaces face a number of difficulties and barriers to understanding, introducing and embedding circular practices to their spaces (and influencing the people using them) from challenges of survival, identifying and empowering people with the understanding and skills needed and the lack of relevant networks and resources.

However, there are already definite opportunities through the culture, building on specialist expertise and emerging focus on the topic and understanding the role of the makespace in the prototype to manufacturing process (when considering redistributed).

From this exploratory research we’ve identified a number of next stage routes at both a practical level in development of resources or appropriate guidance and where further research is required to understand the system. We will be looking at a number of areas that emerged from the research to expand on, iterate and provide some practical levers.