Digital Cities & Citizens

Typical material from Veberöd gets a revival with 3D- printer

Caroline Wendt
August 9, 2021

Veberöd was once home to a brick factory and the many houses made of beautiful red clay still bears witness to this period. Recently, the local resource became important again when Smarta byar (Smart Villages) started to work with 3D printers that can print products according to a digital description. In Veberöds offices tests are now run to 3D-print lampshades made out of clay.

Smarta Byar Hub is located at Södra Järnvägsgatan in Veberöd. The organisation harbours many activities but what they all have in common is a focus on smart technology with the goal to create a more sustainable society. At the beginning of the pandemic Jan Malmgren, the founder, and his son printed out masks with the 3D printers which they then offered to the healthcare-sector and other people in need. By now, the hub owns 18 3D-printers in two different sizes with which make products made of plastic, starch and now clay as well amongst others.

– More and more became conscious that long transport routes are a big problem for our environment. Imagine if one instead could print out what one needs with a printer – that is a really appealing idea, says Jan Malmgren. To show how this can be practically done we designed a clay lamp. It demonstrates how local material can be used to create useful products on site.

Jan Malmgren with the locally produced clay lamp.

A couple of streets away the lamps are being fired at TS Keramik. Tim, Jan Malmgrens son, also participates in an experiment where locally grown hemp gets mixed with the clay to create more sustainable products which could be used in BBQ’s or as building elements for houses.

Smart Byar has plenty of ideas and one always finds somebody that can help in the small community – or somebody who needs help.  

- A villager came by with a broken awning part which can’t be bought any longer in shops. We made a drawing with the help of that old part and a digital description and that’s how we were able to print out the wanted piece with our printer. That way, the villager avoided buying a new awning and no transports were needed either to create the spare part. And we nerds thought it was incredibly fun to help, says Jan Malmgren.

Broken awning parts printed in Veberöd.

In the future Smarta Byar aims to get a 3D printer for wood, a laser printer and an emroidery machine.  

– It is fantastic to be able to produce locally, because it actually strips off a lot of unnecessary things. Besides long transports one also saves packaging material such as plastic and boxes, explains Jan Malmgren. In smaller villages like ours it is also interesting to analyse what new circular business models this can create. We could have a swap business and keep order of the plusses and minus with digital technology. Such a business can also help to increase the villages resilience so that we can manage more strains in the village which can be for example caused by climate changes.

Jan Malmgren and his son have built already before Smarta Byar started - a digital platform with a homepage and a facebook group. An app is also part of the media outlets where business owners and citizens can collaborate. Jan Malmgren and his co-workers also use the app to ask the village questions to then analyse the communities’ opinions on different questions. For example, when the villagers wanted a pharmacy soon thereafter a pharmacy moved into a business premise. Jan Malmgren listens to the wishes of the villagers and in exchange many people show up when Smarta byar needs help to develop an idea.

Jan Malmgren finds a strange plastic stand with pipes and containers in a corner. He quickly explains what it is used for.

- This is a hydroponic garden, he explains. Here, we can cultivate directly with nutrient solution and all we need then are some seeds so that we can grow local food. We can print out the container with our printers. I think we will try to hear with the local boutiques, elderly homes and the school – they surely want to test cultivating this way.

Smarta byar stands for never ending new ideas and surprises – but one thing is for sure: As long as Jan Malmgren and his colleagues are here tests and ideas to create a sustainable society will continuously evolve.

Translated by Christin Scheller


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