Jun 14, 2008

Self-Replication in 3D

Home"Wealth without money..."
"Think of RepRap as China on your Desktop"
Chris DiBona, Open Source Programs Manager, Google Inc., 8 April 2008

In the mid to late 70's a small group of tinkerers in the "Homebrew Computer Club" created many of the foundational technologies, techniques and concepts required for personal computers (it also attracted the ire of a protean Bill Gates). The early efforts of the group seem extremely crude by modern standards, but within a decade, it was clear that the process that they had initiated was remaking the world.

A similar tinkering process is now underway in micro-manufacturing. An open source project called RepRap is working on micro machines that can produce (fabricate) products on your desktop. Further, it has achieved self-replication (actually, a very close approximation thereof), so each RepRap machine has the capacity to produce a copy of itself. Again, it's early days, but the implications of how efforts like these will enable DIY production (for everything from consumer products to weapons) are clear as day. Personal fabrication on a global basis is less than a decade away.