RepRap universal constructor achieves self-replication


RepRap, the self-replicating universal constructor has had our attention since it first started spitting out globs of shapeless goo, but its speculative potential turned in a real benchmark recently when a RepRap machine made parts for an identical machine in a few hours (a child, in other words), then the second RepRap successfully made parts for a third or grandchild machine.

RepRap does not fully assemble copies of itself, but produces the 3D-printed plastic components necessary to assemble another copy. It has also successfully produced other plastic goods like sandals and coat hooks. [Dr. Adrian Bower] is the leader of the RepRap team, and he will be exhibiting its capabilities at this week’s Cheltenham Science Festival.

[via BoingBoing]

Comments

  1. Jack says:

    Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug.

  2. zoinks says:

    no writeup?

    No schematic?

    Not a hack…..unless you count the link to Feb 16, 2006 reprap writeup.

    I dont…….and I am tired of being lied to.

    this used to be a great site……now, not so much. thanks for nothing AGAIN, hackaday!

  3. Frank says:

    Should i start digging me a hole to live in?

    I’m scared :(

  4. Ron says:

    I for one welcome our new self replicating overloads…

  5. kaelb says:

    @zoinks:
    if you visit the reprap site you will find the latest versions of the software, source code, schematics, pcb designs, firmware, and assembly instructions. the entire project is almost, if not completely open source. i would consider it a hack.

  6. Joshua says:

    A hack, not per se, but amazing and worthy of our attention nonetheless. Hackaday used to bring us only hacks, but it has evolved, bringing us a diverse selection of hacks, hints, tips, and projects, for everyone from the complete newbie (no offense, I’m still relatively new to hacking and programming) to the seasoned expert who just wants a new project. Do not disrespect the work done by the people behind Hackaday. Or, if you like, make your own damn website.

  7. Toulouse says:

    our days are numbered.

  8. Joe says:

    @#1- you are becoming a troll, only posting when there’s something you don’t like. I have yet to see you post anything positive of late.

    WHILe I agree with you that hackaday is adding stuff that has no place here, and really wish it would stop too, it’s his site. We can leave if we don’t like it.

    Lastly, this is a hack. Sure a cnc machine can make another cnc machine, but not totally by itself! this thing self-replicates. slightly different, so I call this a sweet hack.

  9. Zoson says:

    This is Old.
    Achieved March 18th, 2005.
    Source:
    http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn7165

  10. Pragma says:

    RepRap is most certainly a hack, just not in the conventional sense.

    It’s a hack from the standpoint that this entire project is being done outside mainstream industry. So it’s more of a life-hack, where an alternate means of production is being eked out of the fabric of our (increasingly global) economy. At its core, it is a low-end CnC extruder that can build it’s own parts – that’s something new.

    If nothing else, it’s the kind of article that should appeal to the reader-base here on hack-a-day, so why not post it? Bandwidth is cheap. Not your thing? Then read the next article already.

  11. MRE says:

    It only appears not to be a hack because the project is so large scale that to get through the documentation is daunting. I dont consider the time involved to determine if something is or is not a *hack*. building a reprap will take you days, weeks, or months, depending on how many prefabed parts you do or do not buy.

    If you only consider a hack as a process by which you force an object to do something it was never intended to do, well then this would not qualify. In fact, very things would (Including most forms of software hacking).

    If, however, you consider any project in which you get your hands dirty, you exand your mind, and you stick it to the man as much as possible, well then this is most certainly a hack. an equivilent machine would set you back the cost of that new car on the show-room floor. or you can build it from scratch for less than $500, and use free software too (take that bill gates).

    If this isnt sticking it to the man, I dont know what is.

  12. Maj says:

    It’s not replicating itself at all. All it can do is output plastic parts. That doesn’t even come close to replicating all of the metal bars, circuit boards, interface cables and other components. I’ve seen this article plastered all over Engadget and Gizmodo too. Methinks sponsored post.

  13. MRE says:

    p.s. it doesn’t achieve self replication in the sense that it is a machine actually constructing its copy.
    It achieves self replication in the sense that it can fabricate the unique *parts* necessary for you to build the clone yourself. you still need to buy nuts and bolts, motors, cut wires and steel rods, and build the circuit boards.
    The good news is, you wont need anything more than hand tools.
    you wont be needing a mill or other such machine.

    I know the documentation looks rough, but Its recomended reading. Lots of interesting ideas and descriptions of how they solved problems. The designers are professors, and it reads more like course notes and problem solutions than a typical hack writeup.

  14. The trick is going to come when it prints something functional that automatically assembles the parts for a new printer. Being as that is a Fab@Home goal, I think some machine cross-breeding is in order.

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