April 11, 2009
The Singularity Hub has a good overview of RepRap machines — open source and (almost) self-replicating 3D printers:
Imagine having a machine for $500 in your living room that can take your computer based specification for a 3D object and print out a plastic replica of the object in a matter of minutes. Imagine furthermore that all of the specifications for the machine are completely open source, completely shareable and modifiable by anyone in the world, and that there is a worldwide community of volunteers working feverishly to support you and anyone else to troubleshoot and improve the machine. Imagine no longer…this machine, called a Reprap, is reality! Best of all, these machines are ultimately designed to self replicate themselves, bringing us within tantalizing reach of a long envisioned era of self replicating machines.
There’s also news that people working on the Fab@Home 3-D printer project (similar to RepRap, but not self-replicating) have figured out a way to cut the costs for the raw stock they use to 1/50th of the previous cost:
“Normally these supplies cost $30 to $50 a pound. Our materials cost less than a dollar a pound,” said Ganter. He said he wants to distribute the free recipes in order to democratize 3-D printing and expand the range of printable objects.
Once these things get even cheaper and more widespread, we’re going to see people coming up with lots of creative uses. I’m looking forward to seeing some of the anarcho-bike-freak modders build a bicycle almost entirely out of 3D printed parts in the near future.