China beware

From Seed, here’s an article on the RepRap, a rapid prototyping machine that can produce 3-D objects out of plastic and can even be programmed to replicate itself. The RepRap uses computer modeling systems like CAD and CAM for production (why it’s referred to as a “3-D printer”) and can be used inexpensively to build objects that would otherwise require massive industrial infrastructures. This includes gears, hooks, cups, ipod holders, and basically anything made out of plastic. In short, the RepRap could potentially mean the democratization of production, and, as Google’s Chris DiBona has noted, the equivalent of “having a China on every desktop.” (Ouch for their economy). Although there are only about 100 RepRaps in the world right now, designers have plans to distribute them in low-income communities around the world, and RepRap forums have been steadily coming up with ideas for RepRap use that can address issues of social justice. The project originated under Dr. Adrian Bowyer at the University of Bath, and the first model came out in New Zealand in 2006.

Here’s a link to some of the stuff it can make, and a video on how to make your very own RepRap:

~ by Jessica on October 2, 2008.

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