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

  • 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
Dr. Adrian Bowyer believes that bring the price of 3D replication down will spark a very personalized revolution:

“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 |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Engineering ")

Smellicopter Combines Live Moth Antenna With Mechanical Drone
'The organic tissue is inserted in the master tank and then sealed.' - Philip K. Dick, 1955.

DARPA's Virtual Caves Explored By Virtual Robots
'If there's anything in here worth looking at, these pups'll find it.' - Ridley Scott, 2012.

Samsung Gets Transparent Smartphone Patent
The Transparency of Things to Come

Jet-Powered Flying Suits Tested By Navy
'With his motor in operation, he moves like a diver, head foremost...' - Philip Frances Nowlan, 1928.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

DALL-E Makes Creative Images From Text
Okay, sf fans. If you could have some art created from a science fiction sentence, what sentence would you pick?

BladeBUG Robots Clean Massive Wind Turbine Blades
'There were the cleaners, with large padded feet, who were apparently polishing their way the whole length...'

Looms To Manually Weave Lunar Rover Wheels
It's fascinating to me how the Apollo program forced people to think outside their usual boxes.

IceBot Antarctic (Planetary?) Robotic Explorers Made Of Ice
'Some will combine in place to form more complicated structures, like excavators or centipedes.'

Glad 2020 Is Over
Maybe you missed one of these?

PEDOT Polymer Could Enhance Brain-Machine Interfaces
'the hair-fine wire going deep into Owen's brain, down into the pleasure center.'

Study: Robots Encourage Humans To Take Risks
Not exactly Three Laws compliant.

Kinetic Buildings And Psychotropic Houses
'There was a dim whirring, and the spheres tipped and began to rotate...'

Jupe Urban Escape Pods Have Tesla, SpaceX Roots
'The houses are prefabricated units... and they sell at the flat rate of five hundred dollars a room — set up.'

Best Robot Dance Video Of 2020
'I can Mashed Potato... I can do the Twist.'

Vertical Farm In Singapore's Output Is 1.5 Tons Per Day
'A towering eighty-story structure like the office "In-and-Out" baskets stacked up to the sky.'

3D Printed 'Blisk' Manufactured In Orbit
'It can be mass-produced only in the orbiting factories...'

Comercial Airlock 'Bishop' Now On ISS
'They put the bones and the glass can that had contained the soup into the double-doored partition or vestibule...'

Space Station Could Use Some Martian Sawgrass
'What better purifying machine is there than a plot of grass?'

ARTUu AI Copilot For USAF
'A series of short beep's and chirps issued from his speaker...'

Smellicopter Combines Live Moth Antenna With Mechanical Drone
'The organic tissue is inserted in the master tank and then sealed.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.