I’ve received a few tips on this, and somehow it keeps slipping by. The fab@home project immediately reminds me of reprap. This is a completely open source hardware project for rapid prototyping/3d modeling. In the past, manufacturing something like a turkey baster bulb required injection molding. The project wiki has full details on building your own, including manufacturing houses to get all the acrylic laser cut. It looks like you could get your hands on one of these pretty easily if you don’t mind making a dent in your wallet. Thanks to [nickjohnson] and [peter B]. [peter B] also noted that the cornell boys have an even nicer one that they use to make zinc-air batteries and artificial muscles.
Today at The Last HOPE, [Far McKon] from Philadelphia’s Hacktory presented on community fabrication. Over the last few years we’ve seen a lot of different accessible rapid prototyping machines created. There’s the RepRap, a fabrication machine that has achieved self replication; our friends at Metalab have gotten their own version of the machine running too. The Hacktory has recently acquired a Fab@home machine. Fab@home hopes to make manufacturing using multiple materials accessible to home users. Multiple materials means people have constructed objects that vary from embedded circuits to hors d’oeuvres. We can’t talk about edible prototyping without bringing up the CandyFab machine, which fuses sugar. The Hacktory has enjoyed their machine so far, but have found the learning curve fairly difficult. While it’s great to see the cost of rapid prototyping dropping, we’ll be much happier when the ease of use improves.
I’ve built a few CNC controllers, and I’ve been a bit disappointed by the state of the control interfaces. Most diy systems rely on a parallel port interface, while a few use a serial connection. Just one that I’ve seen has an actual USB interface, but it’s limited to use with the fab@home software for now.
So what’s the hackit of the day? I think that the hardware hacking, home fabrication community could really benefit from a standardized I/O interface for driving CNC machines, robotics or anything else along those lines. For CNC work, it’ll need a serial or parallel port emulation scheme to allow existing software to take advantage of it. For quicker home development, some simple API’s for controlling the device would be excellent. Imagine using perl to develop robot logic with just a few easy function calls…
Hackit is really your show, so lets hear your ideas.