Increasing digital connectivity and an evolving producer-consumer relationship has enabled contemporary shifts in expectations and experiences of products, production and consumption. Furthermore, the recent growth of shared machine shops has brought about a steady increase in access to the means of production at the local level. The convergence of such emergent digitally-connected technologies has become synonymous with hopes of new post-industrial production practices whereby information on how things are made travel globally, whilst the physical production of things occurs locally, on-demand. At this same time, the augmentation and intersection of ecological issues, technological capacities and economic concerns has given rise to the conceptualisation of Redistributed Manufacturing (RDM); the technology, systems and strategies that change the economics and organisation of manufacturing in ways that enable smaller-scale precision manufacturing, reduce supply chain costs, improve sustainability, and tailor products to the needs of consumers (RiHN, 2017).In recent years, proponents of RDM within academia (including the ESRC and EPSRC), industry (Including Digital Catapult, Innovate UK and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation), and policy (Including Nesta and BEIS) have sign-posted makerspaces or shared machine shops, and the communities who use them, as key actors for the practical embedding and progression of the discourse. The targeted endorsement of RDM at shared machine shops has spurred a significant level of interest, inquiry and tension amongst the communities who use them. As the RDM agenda continues to surround shared machine shops, a tension arises between peer-production practices that do and do not subscribe to the agenda. As the RDM discourse develops, so too does a resultant (un)privileging of particular materials, tools, techniques, and personas.
The paper questions for what purpose individuals and communities within shared machine shops are engaging with the RDM agenda. In doing so, providing a case study analysis of how material flows, technical attribution, subjective experiences and context become shaped, unraveled, imagined, governed and institutionalized across peer production communities in relation to external agendas. Through a cross-comparative analysis, this paper will introduce and evidence the dominance of a digitally-legible assemblage of practices across UK shared machine shops in relation to the emergence of a digitally-dominant peer production technomyth. Advancing insights into the shifting hierarchies of the economic, environmental, and social concerns of RDM advocates and how such negotiations and co-constitutionary practices play out in relation to shared machine shops
redistributed manufacturing, makerspaces, peer production, digital fabrication, networks