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RepRap can help end slave labor!

Posted by Wingman77 
RepRap can help end slave labor!
November 25, 2007 12:54AM
I watched a film called Santa's Workshop:

Santa's Workshop

Many of you are aware of the criticism that China has been receiving for producing dangerous toys. A larger problem are the conditions and lifestyles the laborers producing these toys experience, it is virtual slavery.

Do you believe RepRap, or a future evolution of it could be harnessed to produce toys for our children locally and safely?

Perhaps a project could be founded where simple toys are produced and given to children for free or at a low cost. The money could be used to provide the material necessary to make the toys and a portion could go to Chinese workers.

Whatever your opinion is, I urge you to please watch the documentary.
Re: RepRap can help end slave labor!
November 25, 2007 04:45AM
Hi Wingman77,

... as aleady mentioned in other posts, i tink that an proper evolved reprap would change the situation of the people worldwide dramatically - when you can reprap all your needed hardware at home, the industry/market would break down in the areas covered by reprapping.

I didn't think, the industrial complex would take it peacefully - when the companies and involved groups got aware of the changing, then a kind of fighting for claims and against losses in market-ranges would start!

But this is a real chance for changing our dependancies from the money-/market-tensions too, so i'm hoping the very best, but fear great turbulences, when it's running common ...

It's worth bearing in mind that most Chinese factory laborers are voluntary employees who chose those conditions over the life of a peasant farmer, the miseries of which are almost inconceivable to most of us in the developed world.

Personally, I think a sophisticated and low-cost replication system might well destroy China economically, insofar as most of the growth of the past decade relies on inexpensive export manufacturing. Indeed, there are worse things than dead-end factory jobs--go to Haiti, or many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, where the only large-scale organized economic activity is resource extraction (increasingly by the Chinese, coincidentally).

The availability of cheap used clothing (often gathered by "charity" groups in developed countries) has decimated textile and clothing manufacture in Africa, much as the early cotton mills of Birmingham devastated India's textile industry at the start of the Industrial age. Some would say that cheap third world labor is doing the same in developed countries today, though we're not (yet?) seeing real GDP contraction the way it was seen in my other examples.

That said, it's highly unlikely, because RepRap is nowhere near being able to replace industry on that level, and in the 25-50 years probably needed to get to that level, China will with any luck move far enough forward peacefully to make it a non-issue.
Re: RepRap can help end slave labor!
November 25, 2007 05:28PM
Hi Colin,

... i didn't think the troubling would start and impact mostly in China or 3-rd-world-countries ...

The most instabilities would be adressed in the most developed markets, as here is the 'just-in-time-fabbing' and 'time-is-money' comes together with an extremely complex infrastructure and mainly developed logistics.

The Chinese or african workers could adapt reprapping easily in their infrastructure, without to much worry about the changes around - but imagine the interfering of a 'santa-claus-industry' starting in garage-brews and in neighbour-hoods around you with the actual catalogue-based merchandising ...

Re: RepRap can help end slave labor!
November 25, 2007 08:17PM
I think it would (will) certainly be disruptive both in China and in developed countries. However, because this is a manufacturing technology, and much more manufacturing proper takes place in 3rd world countries, they have the most to lose with this. If everyone in the developed world all of a sudden started physically producing a significant portion of their own items, the markets that have grown around doing that same production would be faced with a significant crisis.
Re: RepRap can help end slave labor!
November 27, 2007 02:37AM
Just don't forget that ordinary plastics is a really high-tech industri by itself, not only does one need oil as usual, with all that comes with it. Also the plastic manufacturers still will have great centralised power.

BTW How is the PLA experiments coming on, that could be a solution...
Re: RepRap can help end slave labor!
November 27, 2007 03:24AM
Hi mimarob,

... it's no real need to use plastic or expensive and/or proprietary stuff - i heard from experiments in africa, to make house-building-blocks from local ressources as grasshoppers/locust (as in locust-plague), sand and water - seems to be a good basis for a reprapper-paste too winking smiley

I have some samples of moulded 'wood-plastic' - wood-powder with water, extruded at high pressure and temperature and with nearly the same treating and mechanical properties, as FDM-plastic.

Or imagine using house refuse, garbagge or organic droppings (dung? from cattle or horses?), solved with gelatine+water or other viscous liquids to a good dispensble paste ...


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/27/2007 03:27AM by Viktor Dirks.
Re: RepRap can help end slave labor!
November 27, 2007 12:59PM

Spot on ideas for what the project is going for. I want to have my own fermentor thingy so I can grow my own plastic.

Re: RepRap can help end slave labor!
November 27, 2007 02:10PM
Hi Demented,

... a guy at Fraunhofer found a way: he encapsuled vegetables (grass, leaves, wood or some organic garbagge) and water with citric acid as catalysator in an autoclav and heated it some days at 120
Re: RepRap can help end slave labor!
November 27, 2007 11:01PM

Wow, that's pretty cool! An autoclav is basically an oven, right? Turns out I made something like that recently for a Human Powered Vehicle bike we are making at College. We made our frame out of carbon fiber tubing and pre-preg carbon fiber tape. To cure the pre-preg tape we needed to bring it up to 275 degrees F and keep it there for one hour. We built the oven out of R13 insulation, sheetrock, 4X4's, plywood, and heat lamps. It worked like a dream! Very fun build.

What other stuff can be made from mineral oil besides plastics? Anything useful?

Re: RepRap can help end slave labor!
November 28, 2007 01:57AM
Hi Demented,

... it's more a pressure-chamber, then an oven - i call it in german "Dampf-Kochtopf" or pressure-cooker, which is heated on an oven-plate ...

With the right chemistry behind you can make all sorts of polymers from the right fractions.

I think, with a more sophisticated physical infrastructure there would be simple carbon as building-material in future - think carbon-nanotubes, graphene or diamant-structures ...

But this is a bit of futuristic stuff winking smiley so let stay in the meantime at mineral-dusts and fluid solvents for pastes ...

Re: RepRap can help end slave labor!
December 02, 2007 02:41PM
Interesting stuff on the mineral oil. Maybe someone will make a variation on those kitchen compost machines that turns half eaten food into oil. Sounds a bit like something governments waste our money on.

As to the main topic, no I do not think reprap will end slave labor. Jobs are best done with the tools designed for them, and the reprap is designed for customization. Any slave labor jobs that do custom plastic work, and have access to electricity, computers, and the internet, will be replaced by repraps. However, most "slave" labor jobs are neither custom, nor basic plastic work. They often involve hard manual labor, or assembly line monotony. Neither of which are suited to repraps.

Nice try though.

Re: RepRap can help end slave labor!
December 03, 2007 03:44AM
Hi Samuel,

Actually a lot of slave and near slave labor could face competition from RepRap since it is as you note assembly line work performed to mass produce cheap commodity consumer goods for developed countries. The widespread availability of RepRap in those developed countries would put those products into competition with equally cheap customized consumer goods, a competition which they are likely to lose over time. On the other hand the presence of RepRap in less developed countries will tend to speed up those countries transition through industrialization by lowering the threshold at which it becomes affordable to build a tool to increase a worker's efficiency, as well as by reducing the need for bulk transport of commodity goods which are instead manufactured close to the point of use. Slavery is not efficient and cannot compete with mechanization. The real nut that needs cracking of course is personal servant slavery which is not susceptible to any of the pressures created by economic development. Much such slavery is deeply embedded in its' culture and so is resistant to moral persuasion as well.
Anonymous User
Re: RepRap can help end slave labor!
December 04, 2007 03:41PM
I have a theory about this. Once Hong Kong and Japan shops were used to manufacture low-cost trinkets for sale to wealthier countries, where labor was more expensive due to the higher expectations of the workers in these wealthy countries.

But then Japan and Hong Kong became so wealthy that these low-wage jobs had to be moved to coastal mainland China. As mainland China becomes wealthier, these types of jobs will move inland like a wave, and eventually there will be no one left even in China to work at low-wage factory jobs.

And at that point, all kinds of automation will become cost effective relative to the cost of human workers. Maybe not specifically RepRap propper, but similar technology that will be developed in coming years.

And so it will be the end of slave labor that will help technology, the reverse of most people's expectations.
Re: RepRap can help end slave labor!
December 04, 2007 09:08PM
My theory is all cost can be summed up in two things. Rarity and labor.
If it takes ten manhours to make a useful item out of something that is free, where competition is allowed to flourish, the price of that item will closely approximate the value of ten hours labor.

Then you factor in education. A combination of rarity, (those willing to delay being productive, (and thus getting paid,)) and labor, (the effort spent improving yourself, as well as the effort spent by others on improving you.)

Then you factor in energy. Which is a rare(ish) resource made available through labor.

Whoops. Edit.

The point of this is. Through mechanization, you amplify the effects of labor. A tractor, operated by one farmer, can produce so much more food than can a dozen farmhands working a field by hand.
A reprap doesn't need to be fast to be effective. If it is accurate, and produces desirable products, then it will win simply because it doesn't need to be paid, or fed when it isn't working.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/04/2007 09:11PM by Sean Roach.
Re: RepRap can help end slave labor!
December 05, 2007 01:13AM
Sean, you're ignoring the cost of capital. You're also ignoring the cost of organizing the labor. Even union organizers get paid a salary.

The thing that ends slave labor is prosperity, and prosperity comes from free markets and private property. Even Marx realized that socialism relies on capitalism to create wealth.
Re: RepRap can help end slave labor!
December 05, 2007 01:56AM
... if you're interested in a comparison between pure capitalism an an 'free source' alternative, then read the first 2 books of "The Probability Broach" from L. Neil Smith ( [en.wikipedia.org] ).

Here he describes an alternative reality, where you have a complete different market-structure and people have much more prosperity from that ...

Re: RepRap can help end slave labor!
December 05, 2007 09:53PM
I've read Probability Broach, fist as the webcomic, then in the dead tree, and am currently reading American Zone.

I like them, and casually daydream about finding a blue tinged hole in space in my bedroom.

Actually, I'm not ignoring the cost of capitol. That's also rarity. Organizing labor is labor. What I'm saying is the cost of anything eventually boils down to how many people had to spend how many hours to make it, how much they demanded for their efforts, and how much competition there was for both their services, and the materials they were working on. Mechanization means fewer people have to spend as much time per item. Yes, a tractor represents hours of investment, (even if you make thousands, so can divide the time training the manufacturers, and the time designing the thing,) but it continues to perform in a manner that amplifies the efforts of both the manufacturers, the user, and even the mechanics.
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