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The Replicators Are Coming!

After three years of work, the Replicating Rapid Prototyper V1.0 is emerging from a heap of nuts, bolts, rods, wires, swear words and GNU make scripts. It fits in a half metre cube, it can build objects in a 300mm cubic volume using a range of plastics, pastes and alloys from standard 3D STL files, and it is Open Source all the way. The most important bits it makes, of course, are its own components.

But how will the free world and commerce react to a device that can proliferate exponentially? With the machine now an impending reality, the RepRap Project moves into the evolutionary phase of its life - and that means it needs to breed.

We'll show how slowly but surely, people are already modifying the base design; improving it to suit local needs and conditions. From these small steps come the beginnings of truly evolutionary Open Source hardware, and it's not just for geeks anymore. Now the basic parts have been developed, the RepRap design can be used for anything from icing a cake, to DNA synthesis. Scale it up and you could build a house. Scale it down and, well, nanotechnology is the limit.

At the moment Reprapping is a new phenomena. There are few machines, they have bugs, and they're mostly being used to develop better RepRaps. The next generation will build their own circuitry, taking them out of the realm of the technogeek and into the hands of the general public. How will the world react to a free device that can evolve, create new tools, and make virtually anything? Just what will people do with it?

When RepRaps can make simple, DRM-free hardware will the RIAA try to ban them? When they make little Open Source chemical factories, will the full force of the law be brought onto people who try to make the patented medicines and vaccines that they need to save themselves? Will the machines create or help avoid an environmental disaster?

The replicators are here now, and they're taking a month to replicate - Walk! Walk for your lives! But it's not the machines you have to look out for. It's the people.

Project: The RepRap Project 


Viktor Olliver

Vik Olliver is a longhair software writer and replicator developer from New Zealand's Waitakere rainforest, where he telecommutes for Catalyst IT. He has worked on projects ranging from implantable heart monitors to launching satellites, and from urban self-sufficiency to hydroponics in moonrock. He is a staunch supporter of Open Source, Open Standards and an Open society. When not involved in the above, Vik is probably on a callout with the Laingholm Volunteer Fire Brigade as part of their medical First Response unit.

Viktor Olliver

Vik Olliver is a longhair software writer and replicator developer from New Zealand's Waitakere rainforest, where he telecommutes for Catalyst IT. He has worked on projects ranging from implantable heart monitors to launching satellites, and from urban self-sufficiency to hydroponics in moonrock. He is a staunch supporter of Open Source, Open Standards and an Open society. When not involved in the above, Vik is probably on a callout with the Laingholm Volunteer Fire Brigade as part of their medical First Response unit.

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