The RepRap Project is an initiative aimed at creating a largely self-replicating machine which can be used for rapid prototyping and manufacturing. A rapid prototyper is a 3D printer that is able to fabricate three dimensional artefacts from a computer-based model.
Think of RepRap as a China on your desktop.
- - Chris DiBona, Open Source Programs Manager, Google Inc., 8 April 2008.
"The promise of advanced fabrication technology that can copy itself is a truly remarkable concept with far reaching implications."
- - Sir James Dyson, 17 April 2007.
"[RepRap] has been called the invention that will bring down global capitalism, start a second industrial revolution and save the environment..."
- - The front page of The Guardian, November 25, 2006.
What is RepRap?
Look at your computer setup and imagine that you hooked up a 3D printer. Instead of printing on bits of paper this 3D printer makes real, robust, mechanical parts. To give you an idea of how robust, think Lego bricks and you're in the right area. You could make lots of useful stuff, but interestingly you could also make most of the parts to make another 3D printer. That would be a machine that could copy itself.
RepRap is short for Replicating Rapid-prototyper. It is the practical self-copying 3D printer. This 3D printer builds the parts up in layers of plastic. This technology already exists, but the cheapest commercial machine would cost you about €30,000. And it isn't even designed so that it can make itself. So what the RepRap team are doing is to develop and to give away the designs for a much cheaper machine with the novel capability of being able to self-copy (material costs are about €500). That way it's accessible to small communities in the developing world as well as individuals in the developed world. Following the principles of the Free Software Movement we are distributing the RepRap machine at no cost to everyone under the GNU General Public Licence. So, if you have a RepRap machine, you can use it to make another and give that one to a friend...
Not counting nuts and bolts RepRap can make 60% of its parts; the other parts are designed to be cheaply available everywhere. This is an interesting coincidence: we can make 60% of our proteins; the other parts are evolved to be cheaply available everywhere...
The primary goal of the RepRap project is to create and to give away a makes-useful-stuff machine that, among other things, allows its owner cheaply and easily to make another such machine for someone else.
To increase that 60%, the next version of RepRap will be able to make its own electric circuitry - a technology we have already proved experimentally - though not its electronic chips. After that we'll look to doing transistors with it, and so on...
The RepRap project became widely known after a large press coverage in March 2005, though the idea goes back to a paper on the web written by Adrian Bowyer on 2 February 2004.
<tasks> [ ] Consider helping to rewrite software for this project from java to python, so the development can be pushed forward (Software developers) </tasks>