Design Museum poll suggests end of the garden shed ahead of The Future is Here show

By Culture24 Reporter | 22 July 2013

If the potentially revolutionary effect of 3-D printing – the technology which will allow people to manufacture everyday objects at home – is hotly anticipated, then the reaction by to a nationwide poll, commissioned by the Design Museum as part of a major new exhibition, suggests a cautious public response.

A photo of people making a wooden house inside a gallery
The Design Museum's new show, The Future is Here, ponders the power of technology
Canvassing nearly 1,000 people, surveyors Ipsos MORI found a mere 6% were interested in owning a 3-D printer, despite the technology’s capacity to allow the production of sophisticated items in non-expert settings.

A knowledge chasm could be responsible, as 71% of people, questioned ahead of the exhibition, The Future is Here, admitted to knowing almost nothing about the printers

The poll also concluded that the image of “the old man tinkering in the shed” could be confined to history by statistics showing a marked decrease with age in enthusiasm for home production.

Ben Page, the Chief Executive of Ipsos, said Britain has become “divided into two tribes”, with residents either seeing technology as “a powerful enabler” or a threat to memory, knowledge and a bearable pace of life.

Almost half of those surveyed expressed a wish to slow down, with a geographical divide summarised as showing that northerners “seem to be among the most averse to change”.

  • The Future is Here: A New Industrial Revolution opens at the Design Museum on July 24 2013.

Results from the polls:

  • Men are twice as likely as women to want a 3D printer (8% vs. 4%), and those aged 15-34 (9%) are more keen than those aged 65 and over (1%).

  • Southerners are most interested (10%) in owning a 3D printer.

  • Slightly more than half (53%) think that people now know more than they used to thanks to the internet. 37% believe that people know less now because they rely on the internet too much.

  • 35-54 year olds were particularly likely (60%) to agree that people know more than they used to because the internet provides so much instant information.  Those with access to the internet are also more likely than those who do not to agree that people know more thanks to the internet (56% and 39% respectively).

  • 15-34 year olds are more positive (43%) about manufacturing objects from home, and this declines with age (22% among those aged 65+).

  • Around a third (35%) of people agree that it is a good thing people will be able to make everyday objects and spare parts at home - but an equal number (32%) are also concerned about people being able to make guns or knives at home.

  • 40% in London and the South agree making everyday objects at home is a good thing, compared with around three in ten across the Midlands (31%), the North (34%) and Scotland (32%).
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