3D mineral printer

The last few days many people have been talking about the USC’s contour printer. It’s a device that prints concrete outlines with the hopes of eventually printing entire houses. Caterpillar has decided to back the initiative.

It reminded us of a project we came across at Maker Faire. [Leif Ames], [Matthew Bowman], [Marides Athanasiadis], and [Terrell Edwards] built a 3D Mineral Printer as their senior engineering design project at UC Santa Cruz. The printer works by first laying down a layer of dry concrete powder. It then selectively wets the powder where it wants a solid form. The reaction doesn’t require air to dry, so the next layer can be applied immediately. The printer only creates contours and the team imagines this being used to create temporary casting molds. The build envelop is nearly a cubic meter. When we talked to them, they were experimenting with many different types of material mixes. A video of the first test is after the break. [Read more...]

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]