A rapid prototyper is a machine that can manufacture items according to specifications handled by computer control. A universal constructor is a machine that can make other industrial products, including replicating itself. The RepRap project uses rapid prototyping to create a universal constructor and does it all under the open source umbrella. RepRap stands for “Replicating Rapid-prototyper”. It is essentially a cheap 3D printer that builds component parts in layers of plastic. It has the ability to print most of the component parts that are required to make another RepRap machine.


What is RepRap?

Look at your computer setup and imagine that you hooked up a 3D printer. Instead of printing on bits of paper this 3D printer makes real, robust, mechanical parts. To give you an idea of how robust, think Lego bricks and you’re in the right area. You could make lots of useful stuff, but interestingly you could also make most of the parts to make another 3D printer. That would be a machine that could copy itself.

RepRap is short for Replicating Rapid-prototyper. It is the practical self-copying 3D printer shown on the right – a self-replicating machine. This 3D printer builds the parts up in layers of plastic. This technology already exists, but the cheapest commercial machine would cost you about €30,000. And it isn’t even designed so that it can make itself. So what the RepRap team are doing is to develop and to give away the designs for a much cheaper machine with the novel capability of being able to self-copy (material costs are about €500). That way it’s accessible to small communities in the developing world as well as individuals in the developed world. Following the principles of the Free Software Movement we are distributing the RepRap machine at no cost to everyone under the GNU General Public Licence. So, if you have a RepRap machine, you can use it to make another and give that one to a friend…

RepRap Research Foundation

3D Printing and Self Replicating Machines In Your Living Room – Seriously!

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