World's First Self-Replicating 3D Printer

If the title doesn’t send a shiver down your spine, you should watch the Matrix Trilogy again and maybe Virus, which is a very old movie about an outer space virus taking over an advanced research lab and building robots using other robots. The future belongs to the machines. It takes a human 9 months to reproduce one, or maybe two or three (in the case of twins and triplets). They didn’t mention, but I think it will take the 3D printer less than 10 days to replicate itself. Once there are 2, they will be able to make another 2 simultaneously. And they will follow the pattern of cell replication until they take over the world.


The RepRap (Replicating Rapid-prototyper) printer and its “child”.

Maybe that’s a little far-fetched. Machines need to be self-aware first before they will replicate themselves and plot against the humans. So far the best AI I’ve seen is probably a chess playing computer. We’ve still got a long way to go.

Now the interesting thing about RepRap is that it’s open source. That means anyone can own it for free. If I have a RepRap, I can print you one RepRap for free! The goal of the project is to “build more and better RepRaps.”

However, RepRap can only make up to 60% of its parts only. The other 40% like motors, electronic circuits and steel tubings need to be sourced from elsewhere. And human interaction is needed to put the parts together to make a new RepRap. So in a way, it cannot self-replicate and over-run the human population yet. But with the help of robotic arms and printers capable of printing electronic circuits, it just might happen. Currently there are 7 known RepRaps around the world.

Some parts to build a new RepRap.

So what does all this means for us? RepRap, being an open source 3D printer, is very cheap to manufacture. Everyone can now own a 3D printer if they want. But why would you want a 3D printer? Easy, so you can build more 3D printers. With more 3D printers, you’ll be able to make things faster. And the great thing about it is that it doesn’t cost a lot to “replicate” another one.

The completed RepRap.

For more practical applications, take a look at the examples below:

A pair of shoes made by RepRap. It took 1 day to make.

Custom made iPod holder to fit your car.

Make extra shot glasses if you have extra guests coming.

Make spare parts for your other devices when they break down.

The applications are limitless. I can an object on my computer and if you like it, you can instantly print it out using your 3D printer, even if you’re halfway around the world! Now how cool is that. Continue reading