Downloadable designs for 3-D printing is a pretty intriguing idea for the future; instead of going to the store to replace a watch band (for example), just download the design and "print" it yourself. Until 3-D printers are as common as inkjet printers in homes, we'll be content with printing paper at home to create usable objects from a digital design and a flat piece of paper.
1) Having this pinhole camera is as easy as downloading the design, printing the PDF, following the instructions, loading the film, and pointing and clicking to your heart's content.
2) Foldschool furniture follows the same idea, though on a slightly larger scale. Designer Nicola Enrico StÃ¤ubli says, "Mass culture is run by superficiality and ecological absurdity. The mindset of foldschool is to restore design to one of its original missions: to provide a product at an affordable price through a smart manufacturing process."
3) Why stop with a camera and furniture when you can download and print a whole house? Well, a scaled-down replica of a house, at least, but still an impressive bit of design and architecture considering it's made from the same stuff TPS reports are usually printed on. Hit the jump for the remaining two picks...
4) Robot-built, downloadable housing is coming, at least if Behrokh Khoshnevis at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles has anything to say about it. "Your shoes, clothes and car are already made automatically, but your house is built by hand and it doesn't make sense."
5) ReachMech is a series of smart, fun designs that you can download and assemble yourself, if you don't want to wait around for robot-built house. Maybe not as functional as a house, but a great example of how to short-circuit the entire expensive production, transport and sales process that consumes so much energy.