Towards Circular Design and Manufacturing - Lessons Learned from University-Based Makerspaces

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Procedia CIRP, Volume 119
Makerspaces are increasingly common in universities and do their part in training students for design and manufacturing in industry. This provides an opportunity for universities to use the makerspaces as testbeds for future design and manufacturing. In this paper we focus on the environmental impact of university makerspaces. Previous literature has examined what is the environmental value and impact of makerspaces, and how these topics are being discussed in the maker community. This qualitative study focuses on understanding the daily practices and methods related to circular material flows. We investigate the status of material circularity in university-based makerspaces and mechanisms that can accelerate the shift towards more environmentally sustainable practices. Thirteen interviews in six different makerspaces in Finland were conducted. We find that many circular themes can be linked to the makerspace and their culture of making. A wide range of different solutions related to recycling, reuse, and, for example, sustainable material use are applied. The identified actions used for fostering circularity can be grouped into five groups: Design, Production, Use of a prototype, End-of-Life, and External factors. However, while a wide variety of actions have been taken to increase the material circularity, many challenges remain ranging from the lack of cooperation to materials-related knowledge gap. These results can be used to turn university makerspaces more circular, which in turn can be used to both train students for more future-proof sustainable design and manufacturing as well as further develop improved circular design practices.
Funding Information: The Confederation of Finnish Industry and Employers (TT) Foundation supported this research. Publisher Copyright: © 2023 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (
Circular Design, Circular Manufacturing, Circularity: Makerspace
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Honkala , T , Hölttä-Otto , K & Kähkönen , E 2023 , ' Towards Circular Design and Manufacturing - Lessons Learned from University-Based Makerspaces ' , Procedia CIRP , vol. 119 , pp. 327-332 .