Waiting for a replacement part for your domestic appliance? Print your own

Dec 08, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Media coverage: Researchers based at the Innovative Design and Manufacturing Research Centre at the University of Bath have designed and developed a printer that can create objects from 3D files.

Dr Adrian Bowyer's Replicating Rapid Prototyping – known as RepRap for short - is a free desktop 3D printer capable of printing plastic objects. The object is formed by applying successive layers of solid material and the self-replicating machine could transform the nature of manufacturing.

and 3D printing are becoming commonplace, but the development of a self-replicating machine is making it possible for anyone to have their own machine for around the same price as a high-specification mobile telephone. It has enabled the costs of 3D printing to be massively reduced and therefore increased its accessibility.

Since many parts of RepRap are made from plastic and RepRap can print those parts, RepRap is a self-replicating machine - one that anyone can build given time and materials. It also means that - if you've got a RepRap - you can print lots of useful stuff, and you can print another RepRap for a friend.

The machines are most often used to create draft copies - prototypes - of objects that will later be created at greater expense with other materials. However, people could produce everyday objects in their own homes and put them together.

In the developed world RepRap machines could be used to manufacture replacement parts for domestic appliances, with the user having downloaded the appropriate files from the internet. People at home or at work could also download files for new products, with some files being available free and others available for a fee.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) supports the Bath Innovative Design and Research Centre (IdMRC) which is located in the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the University of Bath.

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User comments : 3

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1 / 5 (2) Dec 08, 2010
This forms of automation and self-repair/self-assembly, while being extremely economical, will lead to the utter devastation of the false "economy" in modern capitalism.

After all, if people can make replacement parts for so many things at home for "free", and even make replacement "printer" on the printer itself, then it should be obvious that quite a large percentage of the manufacturing industry regarding these devices will be greatly reduced, putting millions of people out of work, perhaps even hundreds of millions of lost jobs world wide.

If we were to further combine this with "printed electronics" then people could even make their own computers at home by the hundreds, and network them, effectively making a "poor man's super computer" for pennies on the dollar.

It looks like the age of the Jetsons is nearly here, but what will we do when "Jetson" doesn't actually have a job, because any factory that can run itself at the touch of a button doesn't need him after all?
5 / 5 (1) Dec 08, 2010
I don't see the amazing point of this article. To me it looks like yet another firm started selling a standard 3D printer, invented and used since the last century.

The rest is just unscrupulous hype, pipe dreams and wishful thinking. Including calling it self-replicating only because it ostensibly could print some pieces that resemble some of its own plastic parts. (Not that they'd actually be usable because the printing material and method do not yield hard enough parts within the required dimensional tolerances.)

Oh well, I guess this is called Marketing, and they need next year's funding.
not rated yet Dec 13, 2010
@gwrede I've actually built a reprap. All of the plastic parts were made by another reprap. They are actually pretty strong. Most every machine out there is using parts made by one.

As the designs improve, folks are able to download and "print" upgrade parts.

BTW, it's not a firm. The machine and its design is the result of hobbyists/tinkers/hackers from around the world.

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