Contest: open 3D print designs for sustainable development

Ivana sez,

You are invited to participate in a design competition for development of sustainable technologies and their components for printing on open source 3-D printers!

The goal of the contest (organized by Queen's University Applied Sustainability Lab and Michigan Technological University) is to facilitate an open exchange of 3-D sustainable technology designs that can be printed to meet various needs in the context of sustainable and self directed development.

3-D printers such as RepRap and open sourced innovation hold great promise for development of technologies to help millions of world's poorest communities reach a better standard of living. Designs will be judged on the technical printing viability, feasibility and functionality of the innovation, as well as ecological, economic and social sustainability.

Anyone can enter the competition however the contestants must post their digital designs on Thingiverse under an open license (e.g. CC-BY-SA). The contest is funded by the Queen's Applied Sustainability Group and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). Competition closes February 1st 2012.

Top prize is CAD1,000, second is CAD500, and there will be three runners up who get a satisfied glow. All winners also get a copy of my novel Makers, which is pretty flattering, if I do say so myself!

Open source sustainability 3-D printing design competition

(Thanks, Ivana!) Read the rest

Sustainable Materials: indispensable, impartial popular engineering book on the future of our built and made world

Julian Allwood and Jonathan Cullen's Sustainable Materials - with Both Eyes Open: Future Buildings, Vehicles, Products and Equipment - Made Efficiently and Made with Less New Material is a companion volume to Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air, one of the best books on science, technology and the environment I've ever read.

We review a lot of popular science books around here, but Sustainable Materials (like Sustainable Energy) is a popular engineering text, a rare and wonderful kind of book. Sustainable Materials is an engineer's audit of the materials that our world is made of, the processes by which those materials are extracted, refined, used, recycled and disposed of, and the theoretical and practical efficiencies that we could, as a society, realize.

Allwood and Cullen write about engineering with the elegance of the best pop-science writers -- say, James Gleick or Rebecca Skloot -- but while science is never far from their work, their focus is on engineering. They render lucid and comprehensible the processes and calculations needed to make things and improve things, touching on chemistry, physics, materials science, economics and logistics without slowing down or losing the reader.

The authors quickly demonstrate that any effort to improve the sustainability of our materials usage must focus on steel and aluminum, first because of the prominence of these materials in our construction and fabrication, and second because they are characteristic microcosms of our other material usage, and what works for them will be generalizable to other materials.

From there, the book progresses to a fascinating primer on the processes associated with these metals, from ore to finished product and back through recycling, and the history of efficiency gains in these processes, and the theoretical limits on efficiency at each stage. Read the rest

Call Me Hope

[Video Link]

Genius work from Joe Sabia, for the nonprofit Mama Hope.

This is the second video in Mama Hope's "Stop the Pity. Unlock the Potential" campaign. This video campaign is about telling the story of connection instead of contrast and potential instead of poverty. Directed by Joe Sabia and Bryce Yukio Adolphson. Shot and Edited by Bryce Yukio Adolphson. Sound Mix by Matt McCorkle. Produced by Nyla Rodgers.

The video is something of an homage and re-singing of Paul Simon's "Call Me Al," off the album Graceland.

Frequent fliers on Virgin America who watch our in-flight Boing Boing television channel on the airline, and regular readers of this blog, will also recall another great video Joe Sabia did with Mama Hope: "Alex Teaches Commando." If you missed it before, you need to watch it now. Read the rest