The opening niche for 3d printing in bikes may well be made to measure titanium frames. Current bespoke frames start at about $4,000 and go up from there. Much of it is cutting tube to the correct length, but the connector bits need to be custom designed.
3D printers that melt metal powders with powerful laser beams are appearing. The Renishaw AM250 starts at a bit under a million dollars and can fabricate titanium, stainless steel and aluminium parts at rates from 5 to 20 cubic centimeters per hour. The parts for a bike aren't that big and can be rough as long as they are accurate so the cost begins to work out.
A few titanium bikes claim to be "first" and one suspects more will follow - especially if fabrication speeds can be increased. But for the time being we're still talking about very spendy bikes.
D-Rev is one of dozens of small Silicon Valley start-ups aiming to use market dynamics to solve social problems. But seven years after its founding — and a decade into the rise of “social entrepreneurism”— D-Rev and its peers have found that the marriage of nonprofit motives to for-profit markets can be rocky.
D-Rev has had to become far more involved than it expected in financial models, licensing deals, consulting services and manufacturing arrangements. In essence, it is redesigning not only high-tech products but also supply chains and procurement systems.
“What D-Rev is doing hasn’t been done before,” said Kevin Starr, managing director of the Mulago Foundation, which is one of D-Rev’s donors. “They’re combining ways of designing equipment by focusing on the user and the user’s context, while also thinking about how to get it to people, about strategies for distribution and the market.”
This reminds me of work on more efficient cookstoves. Even getting the design right has social issues that differ from country to country. There are any number of good engineering designs that have failed miserably. And that doesn't even get to the challenge of distribution, marketing and training.
Now, eight months later, the question is what responsibility Mango and other brands should bear toward the victims of Rana Plaza, a disaster that exposed the murkiness and lack of accountability in the global supply chain for clothes. Under intense international pressure, four brands agreed last week to help finance a landmark $40 million compensation fund for the victims.
But many other brands, including Mango, have so far refused to contribute to the fund. Mango argues that it is not responsible because it had not “formalized a commercial relationship” with Phantom Tac. Company officials say that Mango was still conducting quality inspections and factory audits of Phantom Tac, and that the factory had not started producing samples for an order of 25,000 items.
But in interviews conducted over several months, supervisors and other employees from Phantom Tac said work to make samples for Mango had already begun when Rana Plaza collapsed. Fabric was being marked and cut, and some workers say some sample shirts were already being stitched.
“There was an urgency among the bosses,” said Mohammed Mosharuf Hossain, 28, who worked in a cutting section. “The managers told us to finish the Mango products urgently. They said if we could finish this work quickly, we might get more orders from Mango.”
For global brands and retailers, Rana Plaza has forced a reckoning over how to reconcile the mismatched pieces in their supply chains. Technology and investment are transforming the upper end of the industry, enabling Mango and other brands to increase sales, manage global inventories with pinpoint precision and introduce new clothes faster than ever — all as consumers now expect to see new things every time they visit a store.
But these brands depend on factories in developing countries like Bangladesh, where wages are very low and the pressure to work faster and cheaper has spawned familiar problems: unsafe buildings, substandard work conditions and repeated wage and labor violations. Consumers know little about these factories, even as global brands promise that their clothes are made in safe environments.
Jheri recommended Elizabeth Kline's book Overdressed as an introduction to the subject. Kline has a book promotion site with a summary of tips and resources for those looking towards more sustainable clothing.
Mongolian women’s boqta also had a special role: because men and women’s clothing were more or less exactly the same in design, appearance and function, reflecting thousands of years of more or less equal rights between the genders, the women’s tall headdresses served to differentiate men and women from a distance.
Mongolian equestrian culture influenced fashion as well as martial technology: the headdresses would have been even more impressive on horseback. The higher a woman’s position, the taller, richer, and more elaborately decorated the headdress.
Micro apartments started gaining popularity decades ago in large cities coping with rising rents, including New York, Seattle and Washington, D.C. The complexes often have communal spaces such as large lobbies and restaurants where tenants can socialize. Developers reason that many young tenants would prefer communal space to personal space and would rather spend money socializing than on rent.
A national tally of micro apartments couldn't be found. But real estate data provider CoStar Group Inc. counts 26 micro-apartment projects totaling 2,000 units built or under development since 2011 in six of the nation's most expensive markets: San Francisco, Washington, Los Angeles, Boston, New York and Seattle.
Some real-estate executives aren't sure that micro apartments would work in smaller or less expensive cities because rents aren't sufficiently high to induce enough renters to give up space. "In smaller markets, the rent differential is such that, if you have a good job, you can typically afford the rent of a…full-size apartment," said Jeffrey I. Friedman, chief executive of Associated Estates Realty Corp. , which owns 14,000 apartments averaging 975 square feet in 10 Midwestern and East Coast states.
Another potential problem for smaller cities is that they don't always have the mass transit, night life and cultural facilities to lure younger workers to live downtown. "You can't just drop these [micro apartments] in communities that don't have the amenities to serve that kind of lifestyle," said Kelly Saito, president of Gerding Edlen, the developer of the first of Boston's new wave of micro apartments.
Developer Evan Granoff, who owns the Arcade in Providence, has found that some renters are commuters using the units as second homes. "They're people who have a 45-minute to one-hour commute to work and want to have a place downtown," Mr. Granoff says. "It's people looking for party crash pads. The rents are pretty reasonable, so it's an attractive alternative to staying in a hotel."
The use of old shipping containers seems to be increasing. Last Summer I ran into a guy who built a massive shop in his backyard using two of them that he acquired for a total cost of about $3k. While he spent a good deal more finishing the structure, the cost was much less than a conventional steel frame or wooden structure.