Science Fiction Dictionary
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

 

RepRap: Self-Replicating Rapid Prototyping

A self-replicating, rapid prototyping machine under development at the University of Bath in England could transform the nature of manufacturing. People could produce everyday household objects in their own homes and put them together.


(RepRap Rapid Prototype printed circuitry onto autonomous robot)

Printing in three dimensions - sometimes called "rapid prototyping" - is coming down in price. Small machines cost at least $25,000 and the materials used (usually a kind of plastic) cannot be used to manufacture everything you need. The machines are most often used to create draft copies - prototypes - of objects that will later be created at greater expense with other materials.

The key innovations offered by RepRap are

  • the use of open-source software to create parts and operate machines,
  • designing the printing unit to be replicatable, and
  • limiting the system to creating pieces to be assembled, rather than whole devices
Dr. Adrian Bowyer believes that bring the price of 3D replication down will spark a very personalized revolution:

“People have been talking for years about the cost of these machines dropping to be about the same as a computer printer,” said Dr Bowyer. “But it hasn’t happened. Maybe my idea will allow this to occur.”

“The most interesting part of this is that we’re going to give it away,” he said. “At the moment an industrial company consists of hundreds of people building and making things. If these machines take off, it will give individual people the chance to do this themselves, and we are talking about making a lot of our consumer goods – the effect this has on industry and society could be dramatic.”

The replicator would be a refrigerator-sized machine that would be a form of Universal Constructor, proposed in theory by John von Neumann in the 1950's.

In his famous 1984 novel Neuromancer, William Gibson mentioned the idea of a nanofax that would allow convenience stores to literally print out what you wanted from a catalog, rather than needing to transport and store lots of different products.

Science fiction readers may also remember what was probably the first reference to a self-reproducing factory or manufacturing environment in science fiction - the autofac from his 1955 short story of the same name.

Read more at New machines could turn homes into small factories, 3D printer to churn out copies of itself and the RepRap website.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/25/2005)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Engineering ")

Longest Immersed Tunnel Will Connect Denmark and Germany
'... iron tubes... the ends of the tubes were joined to each other...to preserve it from the action of the seawater.' - Michel Verne, 1895.

Solar-Powered Remote-Control Cockroaches!
'A cable, here, from the controller to the interface plug... wires from that to the brain.' - Thomas A. Easton, 1990.

SolarBotanic Tree For Solar Energy - Would You Need A Forest, Or Just One?
'The slender stalks of a sunshade-photocell collector...' - David Brin, 1990.

SolarXOne Solar-Powered Drone Flies (almost) Forever
'It's an Indian Air Force drone; its solar cells could power an entire farm.' - Interstellar.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction Timeline
1600-1899
1900-1939
1940's   1950's
1960's   1970's
1980's   1990's
2000's   2010's

Current News

LoadRunner Robot Works Alone, Or In A Group
'They marched in unison, seven of them...'

Sierra Space Inflatable LIFE Habitat Burst Pressure Test
'It was like being inside a balloon...'

Longest Immersed Tunnel Will Connect Denmark and Germany
'... iron tubes... the ends of the tubes were joined to each other...to preserve it from the action of the seawater.'

Alcohol-Sensing Cars - NTSB Catches Up With Philip K. Dick (1963)
'Mr. Garden, you are in no condition to drive....'

Solar-Powered Remote-Control Cockroaches!
'A cable, here, from the controller to the interface plug... wires from that to the brain.'

SolarBotanic Tree For Solar Energy - Would You Need A Forest, Or Just One?
'The slender stalks of a sunshade-photocell collector...'

Metaverse Hardware - Run And Flail Like A Maniac, Or Lie Quietly?
'Holodeck 4 was waiting to be programmed...'

Robot Food Delivery Coming To Campus Near You
'... he rewired the delivery robot so that it would serve him midnight snacks.'

Are Craiyon Images Puddinged, ala Philip K. Dick?
'I stood in line for half an hour for this, and it's just a blob!'

Hip'Safe Airbag For Seniors, From Helite
'Other airbags go off around her torso and pelvis...'

Soulaje Self-Administered Euthanasia Wearable Prototype
'A young man... advanced with nervous strides along the gravel path which leads to the bronze doors of the Lethal Chamber.'

Midjourney AI Creates 'Théâtre D'opéra Spatial', Wins Art Fair First Prize
'... we'll give him in his brain what he needs for creation.'

Mobot Robot Tests Smartphone Apps With Its Finger
'Rapidly, purposefully, the metallic fingers moved over the key-boards...'

Space-Based Solar Power A Priority - European Space Agency
'...vast man-made disk of metal set spinning about the sun to supply the Earth with power.'

Goldilocks Zones Found On The Moon
Hopefully, there are no Mynocks in shadowed lunar craters, chewing on the power cables of spacecraft...

Robotic Surgeons Outperform Human Surgeons
'...the objects moving about so gently and putting their instruments away were not living beings, but robots.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.