How digitalization changes the world of work: innovation in craftsmanship through 3 printing

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Disclosure & Image Rights:  Aer Lingus has sponsored air travel on various research journeys. Fáilte Ireland supported our trip to Ireland by taking over travel expenses. Image material was created with a camera provided free of charge by our sponsor Olympus, which we checked as part of the test until it was unusable.  Image location: Trinity Technology & Enterprise Campus, Pearse St, Dublin 2, Ireland.

Like no other building, the Design Tower in Dublin unites historical traditions and digital modernity - and, incidentally, shows how our world of work is significantly changing.


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Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisherGerman Top20 blogger and Consultant for HR communication.


Exchange between university and craft

The design tower is located on the Trinity Technology and Enterprise Campus, right next to digital giants such as Google and Facebook.

The building itself belongs to Dublin's famous university, the Trinity College, which here allows small trades studios for comparatively moderate rents the opportunity to pursue their business. In return, the craftsmen also giveCourses at the universities or exchange with them.

Pioneer in the changing world of work

Collaboration between higher education and trade would probably be almost unthinkable in Germany, and the connection is almost unique in Ireland as well - the combination with the IT location makes the project almost an ingenious pioneer in the transition from the indistrualized to the digitalized workplace.

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I meet the two goldsmiths Lee Harding and Seamus O Donaghue, who have a small studio on the top floor of the design tower. Fear that digitization could take them away from the work they did not. They see great chances in her. The most important innovation so far: 3-D printing.

How the 3 printing changes the craft

“3-printing has made our production conditions much easier,” O Donaghue explains. The two design their jewelry on the computer and can then directly produce casting molds in wax or metal blanks.

“In the past, we had to commission their production, the 3D printing has made this process considerably easier and cheaper,” says the goldsmith. In this way, the two can produce faster and easier and offer their jewelry cheaper.

Far from industrial mass production

The two still see themselves as far away from industrial mass production. “Industrialization meant that products had to be manufactured and sold in large numbers according to a specific template. There was no room for individual customer requests, ”says O Donaghue.

“As a little one Company we now have the opportunity to react much more flexibly to customer requests. At the same time, digitization helps us to offer individual products at a reasonable price, ”he explains the difference.

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“The need for quality will continue to grow”

On the contrary, fear that 3 printing might make their work superfluous, because potential customers would like to print their jewelry in much larger quantities themselves, the two have not - on the contrary:

“This technique will probably cause people to make all kinds of plastic stuff themselves. Because of this weariness, the need for quality will continue to grow, ”explains D., adding:“ The quality lies primarily in the design and our expertise. The material also makes a big difference. ”

Small business with customers on all continents

The two see their advantage much more in the individual advice and manufacture of products that are precisely tailored to the needs and budget of the customers. "The future will look like a retailer in Australia, for example, who sends us these measurements, we design the jewelry and it is made locally - a kind of global design group," says Lee Harding.

Already today, the two customers in over 20 countries on all continents - an international distribution that was previously reserved only for large companies and is now also possible for one-man companies thanks to the Internet: “A small shop therefore does not need many customers, it is enough a good 150 to survive, ”summarizes O D. the important difference in the transition from the industrialized to the digitalized world of work.

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