We're celebrating the creation of the Sheffield RepRap Makers' first machine with a special visit from Adrian Bowyer, the inventor of the paradigm-shifting RepRap, in an extended two-part season finale of the Self-Replicating Machine Odyssey.*
Adrian and local RepRap Makers will be around for both sessions. The GIST Lab will be open from 2pm through to 9pm, with a chance for informal Q&A and project demos outside of the above scheduled sessions. You should come if you're interested in sustainability, engineering, products, design, open source, hardware hacking, robotics, or the invisible gap between physical and digital that makes up the thingiverse.
Look at your computer setup. Imagine that you hooked up a 3D printer. Instead of printing on bits of paper this 3D printer makes real, robust, mechanical items. To give you an idea of how robust these items are think of 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.
This talk will be about RepRap - the Replicating Rapid-prototyper. This 3D printer will make items by building them up in layers of plastic. This technology already exists, but the cheapest proprietary machine would cost you £15,000. And it isn't even designed so that it can make itself. So what the RepRap team have done 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 £300). That way it's accessible to small communities in the developing world as well as individuals in the developed world. Anyone can swap designs for anything to be made on RepRap using the Internet in the same way that music is currently shared.
The RepRap machine is being distributed entirely free to everyone using open-source - so, if you have one, you can make another and give it to a friend...
In the early 1970s Adrian Bowyer read for a first degree in mechanical engineering at Imperial College, London, and then researched a PhD in tribology there. In 1977 he moved to Bath University's Maths Department to do research in stochastic computational geometry. He then founded the Bath University Microprocessor Unit in 1981 and ran that for four years. After that he took up a lectureship in manufacturing in Bath's Engineering Faculty, where he is now a senior lecturer.
His current area of research is self-replicating machines - he is the inventor and developer of the RepRap replicating rapid prototyper.
He also works on geometric computing (he is one of the authors of the Bowyer-Watson algorithm for Voronoi diagrams), the application of computers to manufacturing, the biochemistry of smart materials, and biomimetics.
Interested in experimentation and building machinery that can self replicate? In a nut shell RepRap is an open research project to make rapid prototyping machinery that can replicate itself. * The Makers community is made up of folks who want to find out more or get involved, and to work on projects that push forward the boundaries of this technology research.It's not dry research though ... we build stuff too. And that stuff will eventually be able to build itself ... welcome to the self-replicating machine odyssey!
More info about RepRap is here. If you'd like to share some news, do a talk, show off a project, or otherwise contribute to the meetups, please get in touch on the forums here. Directions to the GIST Lab, a creative community collaboration space operated by the GIST Foundation in partnership with the Showroom Workstation, are here.
The GIST Foundation is a not-for-profit voluntary organisation dedicated to promoting grassroots and social innovation through technology and community.
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