RepRap – Open Source 3d Printing – Changing Society

I realised that whilst I talk about RepRap a lot to people and have blogged elsewhere about it this blog has no good reference to RepRap. So here it is.
In putting a shout out for help and ideas on 3d printing for the cool stuff collective RepRap keeps getting mentioned by people. It is an intriguing project and has the sort of spirit and goals that I really relate too.
RepRap is an opensource hardware and software project to build a 3d printer, one of whose aims is to be able to print and replicate the parts to make another RepRap printer.

RepRap from Adrian Bowyer on Vimeo.

The video above is from Adrian Bowyer the inventor of RepRap, it has some great points about replicating nature with insects and flowers, plus you can see how a printer works.
To people who have not yet Grokked the whole massive impact this micro/local manufacture will have there is something very primeval about explaining the self replication by a piece of hardware, that seems to sit well with us humans.
I am fairly convinced that saying this machine is able to make the parts for itself is one of the most obvious examples of a use case. It is also both a joke, threat and obvious at the same time.
I often talk about the redistribution of manufacturing and the cultural impact it will have, but increasingly I am also talking about the feedback loop that occurs when those things manufactured are placed into our lives and then by their very existence alter the things that occur around us and to us.
Think about how the remote control on the TV altered our homes and the way we used television. It took a few years for everyone to upgrade to a TV with a remote, but they are pretty ubiquitous now. Imagine how quickly an innovation such as that would infect/enhance our homes and lives if we could print them out as they happened.
The spread of the end product in this way would also lead to even quicker open source projects based on whatever this device or object was, projects to take that and use it in even more advanced ways, sharing the information along the way.
This can be a cycle in fashion accelerated not to seasons and production runs but to right now, to changes in architecture, to sudden new character collectible toys and games.
You do not have to ponder this very long to add together the power of sharing across the web and willingness to self organise with an open source mentality combined with not just software or ideas but with physical items and you can see that there is an even greater cultural shift, and its way more than people say hi to one another on Twitter and Facebook.
It really is very exciting and scary at the same time.
The open source approach and mentality is really a giant feedback loop with adjustments and mutations made along the way like a genetic algorithm. Throw atoms, not just virtual digits and the proposition expands a great deal.

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