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Fabricating a Free World

Vik Olliver, The RepRap Project

Track: Emerging Topics
Date: Thursday, July 26
Time: 4:30pm - 5:15pm
Location: F151

The technology to print objects in 3D has reached the point where it is possible for a 3D printer to fabricate many of its own components, including the circuitry. The RepRap is such a printer, and has been built on open source principles and platforms so that RepRap can evolve as its users innovate and manipulate the original design. We've already developed print heads that can use different plastics, filler material, and metals, and expect users to widen the range of materials used.

The project is a practical one, and the presentation shows how the availability of local resources -- hardware, software, and wetware -- has influenced RepRap's design. All the parts that it can't make for itself -- bolts, motors, chips -- need to be widely available, simple to use, and inexpensive. Preferably free; one of our plastic feedstocks can be fermented from milk waste or starch.

Finally, the project has social implications. What will the widespread distribution of machines like RepRap do to the world's manufacturing industry? What will users do with their new-found capabilities? Bear in mind that the RepRap Project is not an end in itself, but a tool that will be used to develop other tools.