The machine that can copy anything?From CNN, so...
The machine that can copy anything
By Simon Hooper for CNN
LONDON, England (CNN) -- A revolutionary machine that can copy itself and manufacture everyday objects quickly and cheaply could transform industry in the developing world, according to its creator.
he "self-replicating rapid prototyper," or "RepRap" is the brainchild of Dr. Adrian Bowyer, a senior lecturer in mechanical engineering at the University of Bath in the UK.
But Bowyer told CNN the RepRap's ability to copy itself could put rapid prototyping technology within reach of the world's poorest communities by alleviating the need for the sort of large-scale industrial infrastructure common across the developed world.
[So if each machine makes two more copies which each make two more copies, how long before we can't move without stepping on one?]
"It is the first technology that we can have that can simultaneously make people more wealthy while reducing the need for industrial production."
[I don't think this guy is an economist. Someone might need to pay for resources?]
The machine could build items ranging in size from a few millimeters to around 30 centimeters, such as plates, dishes, combs and musical instruments.
[That's just what the 'world's poorest communities' needs]
The concept of self-replicating machines dates back to the work of mathematician John von Neumann, who proposed the idea of a "Universal Constructor" that could copy itself in the 1950s.
Von Neumann suggested that the generational development of a machine would display similar characteristics to Darwinian evolution as users honed and varied its design to suit their needs.
To encourage that development, Bowyer plans to make the design of the RepRap available online and free to use, in the same way as open source software such as the Linux operating system or Mozilla's Firefox browser.
Anyone with a replicating machine could then start manufacturing copies. Once someone owned the technology they could download other designs, or create their own.
"The most interesting part of this is that we're going to give it away," said Bowyer.
"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."
CNN.com - The machine that can�copy anything - Jun 2, 2005