Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Prototype of machine that copies itself goes on show

A University of Bath academic, who oversees a global effort to develop an open-source machine that ‘prints’ three-dimensional objects, is celebrating after the prototype machine succeeded in making a set of its own printed parts. The machine, named RepRap, will be exhibited publicly at the Cheltenham Science Festival (4-8 June 2008).

RepRap is short for replicating rapid-prototyper; it employs a technique called ‘additive fabrication’. The machine works a bit like a printer, but, rather than squirting ink onto paper, it puts down thin layers of molten plastic which solidify. These layers are built up to make useful 3D objects.

RepRap has, so far, been capable of making everyday plastic goods such as door handles, sandals and coat hooks. Now, the machine has also succeeded in copying all its own 3D-printed parts.

These parts have been printed and assembled by RepRap team member, Vik Olliver, in Auckland, New Zealand, into a new RepRap machine that can replicate the same set of parts for yet another RepRap machine and so on ad infinitum. While 3D printers have been available commercially for about 25 years, RepRap is the first that can essentially print itself.

The RepRap research and development project was conceived, and is directed, by Dr Adrian Bowyer, a senior lecturer in engineering in the Faculty of Engineering & Design at the University of Bath, UK.

Dr Bowyer said that: “These days, most people in the developed world run a professional-quality print works, photographic lab and CD-pressing plant in their own house, all courtesy of their home PC. Why shouldn't they also run their own desktop factory capable of making many of the things they presently buy in shops, too?

“The possibilities are endless. Now, people can make exactly what they want. If the design of an existing object does not quite suit their needs, they can easily redesign it on their PC and print that out, instead of making do with a mass-produced second-best design from the shops. They can also print out extra RepRap printers to give to their friends. Then those friends can make what they want too.”

Recently, Chris DiBona, Open Source Programs Manager at Google Inc, encouraged people to: "Think of RepRap as a China on your desktop."

Sir James Dyson, Chief Executive of the Dyson Group, said: “RepRap is a different, revolutionary way of approaching invention. It could allow people to change the ergonomics of a design to their own specific needs.”

Dr Bowyer hopes people will come to the Cheltenham Science Festival and see both the 'parent' and the 'child' RepRap machines in action for the first time together.

"RepRap is the most enjoyable research project I've ever run," he said. "Without the many talented and selfless volunteers the RepRap project has all round the world, it would have never succeeded so quickly."

Complete plans for the prototype RepRap 3D printer and detailed tutorials to aid motivated amateurs (and professionals) in assembling one are available, free-of-charge, at the RepRap website (details below). The materials, plus the minority of parts that the machine cannot print, cost about £300. All those non-printed parts can be bought at hardware shops or from online stores.

Dr Bowyer and several of the other Reprap team members will be available to answer questions and exhibit the parent and child RepRap printers in operation at the Cheltenham Science Festival from 4-8 June 2008.

Press Team | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Fraunhofer FIT joins Facebook's Telecom Infra Project
25.10.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT

nachricht Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions
21.10.2016 | Stanford University

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>