RepRap: the replicating rapid prototyper

The RepRap project hopes to build a universal constructor; a machine that can replicate itself and make a number of useful products. The machine is open source and uses fused deposition modeling (FDM) to layer melted material into parts. One of the key technologies in self-replication is the ability to lay conductive circuit paths. The RepRap machine is able to lay down conductive material and an insulator. For a conductor they are using Wood’s metal, a fusible alloy that has a melting point of 158degF. To demonstrate this conductor laying ability they built the FDM head pictured in a commercial FDM machine. The project makes some reasonable compromises; it doesn’t attempt to make common items like brass bushings, microcontrollers, stepper motors, self-tapping screws, and power supplies.

Comments

  1. Daedalus says:

    That seems to be taken from Deus Ex game!

  2. furtim says:

    Trust me, Universal Constructors predate Deus Ex by quite a number of years.

  3. the_steven says:

    Oh just great, in 10 to 20 years we’ll be up to our armpits in von Neumann machines!

    Then they’ll look for “other components” to use, and then we’ll all be SOL!

  4. orwell84 says:

    The first person to make a “I for one welcome our _____ overlords” will be dragged out into the woods and beaten about the head and neck.

  5. Fabulo says:

    You asked for it: I for one welcome our self replicating overlords.

    Step 1: Build self replicating machine.
    Step 2 ???
    Step 3: make profit.

    Did not they learn anything for “Terminator”? “Terminator 2″? “The Matrix”?
    What? Those were movies? Soooo… ?

  6. Alan says:
  7. monster says:

    you saw it here first people: this is how it ends.

  8. Gerry says:

    The first movie that I recall where machines made themselves was “Screamers”, which was based on a much older book, “Second Variety” by Philip K. Dick. The guy was a mad genius.

  9. joevennix says:

    Woods metal? Never heard of it.
    Perhaps you meant Field’s metal.

  10. zach hoeken says:

    hey all,

    member of the reprap project here, just thought i’d drop in and say thanks for linking us. its a really cool and fun project to work on. our basic status right now is that we have a solid extruder head model up and running, and now the guys have 3-4 different designs going for actually positioning the print head.

    definitely keep an eye on this project, everyone is quite serious and this project has the potential to be very disruptive (in a good way).

  11. Wim L says:

    joevennix: Wood’s metal and Field’s metal are two different, well-known low-melting-point alloys. I’ve heard of Wood’s metal more often. Field’s metal has less scary-looking (but rarer) ingredients.

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