RepRap: Self-Replicating Rapid Prototyping
A self-replicating, rapid prototyping machine under development at the University of Bath in England could transform the nature of manufacturing. People could produce everyday household objects in their own homes and put them together.
(RepRap Rapid Prototype printed circuitry onto autonomous robot)
Printing in three dimensions - sometimes called "rapid prototyping" - is coming down in price. Small machines cost at least $25,000 and the materials used (usually a kind of plastic) cannot be used to manufacture everything you need. The machines are most often used to create draft copies - prototypes - of objects that will later be created at greater expense with other materials.
The key innovations offered by RepRap are
Dr. Adrian Bowyer believes that bring the price of 3D replication down will spark a very personalized revolution:
- the use of open-source software to create parts and operate machines,
- designing the printing unit to be replicatable, and
- limiting the system to creating pieces to be assembled, rather than whole devices
“People have been talking for years about the cost of these machines dropping to be about the same as a computer printer,” said Dr Bowyer. “But it hasn’t happened. Maybe my idea will allow this to occur.”
“The most interesting part of this is that we’re going to give it away,” he said. “At the moment an industrial company consists of hundreds of people building and making things. If these machines take off, it will give individual people the chance to do this themselves, and we are talking about making a lot of our consumer goods – the effect this has on industry and society could be dramatic.”
The replicator would be a refrigerator-sized machine that would be a form of Universal Constructor, proposed in theory by John von Neumann in the 1950's.
In his famous 1984 novel Neuromancer, William Gibson mentioned the idea of a nanofax that would allow convenience stores to literally print out what you wanted from a catalog, rather than needing to transport and store lots of different products.
Science fiction readers may also remember what was probably the first reference to a self-reproducing factory or manufacturing environment in science fiction - the autofac from his 1955 short story of the same name.
Read more at New machines could turn homes into small factories,
3D printer to churn out copies of itself and the RepRap website.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/25/2005)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
Tiny LEDs Developed For Dust-Sized Computers
'They use sparkles to talk to each other...' - Neal Stephenson, 1995.
Seabreacher, H.G. Winter's 1939 Torpoon
'Ken lay full-length in the padded body compartment, his feet resting on the controlling bars of the directional planes, hands on the torpoon's engine levers.' - HG Winters, 1939.
Project Soli Radar Gesture Chip Now FCC Approved
'He waved his hand and the circuit switched abruptly.' - Philip K. Dick, 1955.
Implosion Fabrication Shrinks 3D Objects To Nanoscale
'Carter had watched miniaturization a hundred times...' - Isaac Asimov, 1965.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Nobe 3-Wheel Electric Vehicle Parking Like I, Robot
Spidercar, Spidercar, does whatever a spidercar does.
Michelin Self-Sealing Tires On Ford's Explorer
'...a seal of compressed plastifoam to save the air.'
Mushroom Eats Plastic, Saves Planet
Fungus Amongus, SaveUs!
Juggalo Face Paint Disrupts Facial Recognition
'... designed to foil facial recognition systems.'
Mojipic Smart Voice Vehicle Emojis
KITT, what's your response?
Unusual Twist On Woman Dates Robot
'My hearing, vision and awareness went along with that excellent imitation of a young Adonis...'
BrainNet Triple Telepathic Gaming Threat
'In the gloomy half-darkness the three idiots sat babbling.'
AVAS Noisemakers Required For EVs By EU
'...a sound tape to supply the noise of a soi-disant "[internal combustion]" engine...'
Pun Generation Via Neural Nets
'You said you wanted him to be able to distinguish between laugh-power in different gags...'
Blood Battery Robotic Fish
'With one fluid motion, it surged forward, plunged, and was gone.'
Lightyear One Solar-Powered Electric Car (Design By Heinlein)
'It drew its power from six square yards of sunpower screens on its low curved roof.'
'Agression Detectors' Don't Work When Spying On Students
'The professional agitators had also learned how to modulate their voices below the danger level...'
Mining Of Golden Asteroid Foretold In 1898 Science Fiction
'This must be a golden planet—this little asteroid.'
Miners! NASA Wants To License RASSOR Excavator
'The borers had been dismantled and packed away.'
Bee+ Robobee Now With Four Wings
'It was a tiny thing, scarcely more than an inch and a half in length...'
CNSILK Robotic Spider Builder
'We could certainly spin a web right through the Solar System, if we can think of a good use for one.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories