Read this stuff. Then get your RepRap supplies from the man himself.
3D manufacturing, or printing, is the most versatile production method humanity has yet come up with.
The role of the core team is to design the mechanics, electronics and software for the ‘standard’ RepRap….My role is to scratch my head and to wonder where it’s all going…
We estimate (though this is probably not a very accurate figure) that there are about 2,500 RepRaps and RepRap derivatives in the world. That’s from a total of four at the start of 2008. So there are almost certainly thousands of hobbyists doing exactly that. Things will get interesting when it becomes hundreds of millions, and to get there is my vision for the project.
The interesting thing about a widespread takeup of this technology is the way it would bypass conventional finance. The machines would be creating great wealth, but would be almost valueless themselves…A manufacturing machine that can copy itself can create goods like no other technology we have – it is the only way to do so with exponential growth, for example. But by that very fact, both the machine and those goods have a value that, as the technology spreads, asymptotically approaches the value of the raw materials used.
Conventional manufacturing produces goods in an arithmetic progression. But a self-copying 3D printer produces goods – and itself – in a geometric progression. And, no matter how slow it is, any geometric progression overtakes every arithmetic progression, no matter how fast, eventually.
I think that OS is in general a good thing anyway. The alternative is various forms of intellectual monopoly, and I can see no real justification for any of them.
When one has a machine that self-copies, logic compels one to make it open-source. The alternative is that one will spend the rest of one’s life in court trying to stop people doing with the machine the one thing it was most designed to do.
If this technology becomes very wide-spread, and if a large number of personal users have them in their homes, what’s going to happen to the whole idea of patents and copyrights? Of course, the answer is found in what has happened over the last ten years in recorded music. Nearly every country on Earth has laws protecting copyright and nearly every 17-year-old has 30 gigabytes of illegally-downloading MP3s on their hard drives. You can’t sue the entire human race.
The interesting thing about 3D printing is that it doesn’t replace one manufacturing industry, it could replace them all.
I expect RepRap will be resisted by many industries, but I’m far too old and uninterested in that aspect of the world to take on any fights. If the idea works the resistance is bound to fail, if not the resistance will have been pointless.