Humanitarian Makers – 3D Printing & manufacturing in disaster zones


Disaster aid takes time to reach the people who need it. Stockpiled and flown in, even getting it through customs, the aid can be hugely expensive.

With advances in small scale manufacturing, we have an opportunity to disrupt these traditional supply chains: humanitarian supplies can be made in the field.


This talk will reflect on the experience of one organisation, Field Ready, who used 3D Printing technology to make medical supplies for hospitals in Haiti at the end of 2014. It will share some reflections from that experience that can inform future work. During the presentation, a vision will be shared for a new way of responding to disasters using remote manufacturing - both as a means of meeting urgent humanitarian needs but also of harnessing the skills of affected the people.

The talk will then outline the beginnings of a new movement inspired by ‘Crisis Mapping’ – the ‘Humanitarian Maker’ movement. Again based on experiences in Haiti, the beginnnings of a new movement will be presented that mobilises the expertise of makers and hackers - wherever they may be in the world - to help people affected by disasters. The concept of a 'Fab Lab in the field' or 'humanitarian maker spaces' will be discussed.

Finally, some thoughts about the meaning of this innovation will be outlined: Is it an example of 'power to the people' meets the 'power to create'? Is it an example of 'massive small change'? And is it an opportunity to redefine the traditional, industrial path of development for the next generation in developing countries?


This session is a part of the GIG programme.