RepRap - Manufacturing for the Masses

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RepRap - Manufacturing for the Masses
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2010
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Abstract
This talk will start by briefly introducing RepRap - the replicating rapid prototyper. The talk will then look at how a growth of replicator technology may change economic activity, society, and the nature of wealth. Material costs for a RepRap are currently about 350 EUR. That means that RepRap is accessible to small communities in the developing world as well as to individuals in the developed world. The designs for the RepRap machine are being is distributed free to everyone using the GPL - so people can copy the machines to their friends without limit. Finally it will examine replicator technology in the biological context, considering both it and human beings to be collaborating and competing replicators in a Darwinian ecology.
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hello everybody my name is Adrian Bowyer and I'm the person who created the reprap project which is what I should be talking about today manufacturing for the masses this is a way a possible way where we can move the whole idea of making goods from centralized production to distributed production ultimately to individual production and it's the way in which we might progress from where the world is today to how that might happen that is the subject of my talk before I start though I just like to thank Eric and several other people in the audience all of whom we've been very helpful eric is set up his machines over there my little machine is here you'll notice that they're different will come to that a bit later on and so thank you very much to them and also thank you for the organizers for inviting me and for paying to put me on an airplane which is very kind of them okay many of you know
what the machine is but just for the some of you who don't RepRap is a 3d printer it's a machine that makes three dimensional objects in plastic from description on the computer completely automatically in plastic but the key thing about RepRap is that it's a replicating 3d printer it's been designed so that it can print its own parts not all of its own parts as we shall see in a moment but a significant quantity of its own parts that's a picture of the machine on the screen there that's the machine in fact a very similar machine to the one that you can see on the front bench there and this little part here is that part that's on the screen over there and that part of the machine is actually this bit of the machine down here and so everything you can see on that picture that's this sort of silvery YT color was printed in a machine like that one in order to make that one so it copies itself in part a few facts about the machine it can
copy about half of its own parts that is if you don't count nuts and bolts it's got lots of nuts and bolts in it if you count nuts and bolts and then look at the pie chart the entire machine is made from nothing but nuts and bolts so if you discount fastenings then it prints about half of its own parts in fact that's not really cheating because it would be perfectly straightforward if you wanted to to have the machine print a series of little cylinders which you could use in the place of nuts and bolts and glue the parts together that would work fine it would just mean that you wouldn't be able to take the machine apart again which from the point of view of maintenance is not such a clever idea but in that way it would actually be printing literally that half of its own part well it was deliberately designed so that the bits that he can't make as very are very easy to obtain from hardware shops or from online stores for example these threaded rods here they're m8 threaded rods completely standard size you can get those from a builders merchant just down the road these motors here standard NEMA 17 stepper motors they cost about 10 euros each so everything in the machine that it can't make for itself has been designed to be as easily available as possible and if you want to put one together the cost of all the materials you need to put the machine together is about three hundred and fifty euros the working volume the size of the object the biggest object it could produce is 200 x 200 140 millimeters now that's effectively the region above this blue area here up to the height that the machine can build it would take quite a while to make an object that big one of the things about this technology is that the time it takes to make something is proportional to the volume of the object and the volume of an object as you all know goes up as the cube of its linear dimensions so if you double the size of something takes eight times longer to print one of the disadvantages of this technology but we'll come to that a little bit later on it'll build objects in most thermoplastics that's plastics that melt and then risa Lydda phi but the two ones that we use most of all our abs which eric has on that yellow real over there that's a BS I think Eric is it yeah that's one of the plastics we use which works quite well but the very best plastic that we found to run in the machine is the plastic that this machine is made from its this stuff which is poly lactic acid and I'll say a few more words about that later on it prints at a rate of about 19 milliliters per hour which means that to copy all the parts of the machine that it can print for itself the machine takes about two and a half days though that's getting faster all the time and finally and perhaps as important as all of those other facts put together is the fact that it's licensed under the GPL and it's distributed free both as in freedom and as in beer on the web for anyone to download and the GPL of course means that anybody who makes improvements in the design also has to distribute those under the GPL as you all know even better than I do which means that the design can evolve and those evolving steps are always going to be available under the GPL here's a little map when
people start putting machines together we invite them to put a pin on the google map this is by no means all of the people involved in building these machines but these are just the ones that could be bothered to put a pin on the map but it gives you an idea of the distribution unsurprisingly Europe and North America have pretty dense populations but they're starting to appear in South America Africa eastern Asia and of course there's another concentration in Australia and New Zealand that's a snapshot about two months ago just to give you a rough idea of where everybody is the total number of people building machines we don't know because it's on the web anyone can download it that I keep discovering people who built machines and I've never heard of so we have no real way of estimating but the best guess we've got is about two and a half thousand ret rack machines and reprap derivatives that same machines that people designed based on the reprap ideas but I've either made or sold that are not quite the same designers reprap what
sort of things does it make well one of the guys on the project Zack Smith set up a website called thingiverse where people can upload designs for objects to be printed and then anybody can download them and to make this slide I just went to think of us clicked on the RET rat link and that pulls up everything that's been tagged with a ret rat tag and selected six things at random and it's pretty versatile device so top left we've got the drain for a shower tray somebody cracked the drain in their shower tray and they didn't want to go to the shop and buy one so they just had their machine print one sticking with a bathroom theme in the middle at the top there's a there's a stop for the shower door not the same guy I don't think but that was printed in a reprap machine with a little cork insert for where the glass just touches it to stop the door smashing against the wall top right we've got a series of little interlocking trays with drawers so that you can build up a stack of these things in order to put resistors and transistors chips and so on in indeed any small components or maybe a spice rack bottom left we've got a series of eccentrically and interestingly shaped containers that have been spray gold in the middle at the bottom we've got a saris linkage Oh Eric's got one over there thank you Eric in the middle at the bottom we've got a Cyrus linkage and the way the machine works and i'll be running it after my talk the parts co pendulum machine move around in Cartesian coordinates on these sliding rods those are a part of machine have to be bought in the person who designed this linkage is trying to eliminate those by making a parallel motion which is almost entirely designed in the machine and built in the machine itself this is a parallel emotion that doesn't require sliding rods it just requires hinge joints which are here here and here and so on around the object so that a far higher proportion of self printed parts on bottom right we've got a little robot might be an educational toy something of that nature all the mechanical components that decide the geometry of the robot were printed out in a reprap machine and that's just a sample that I took we'll see a few more things that the machine makes a little bit later on um now that the key point
as I mentioned is that the machine is capable of printing out a significant fraction of its own parts which means that any one of you ladies and gentlemen you've got one can print out another one for a friend and because it's free under the GPL you don't have to pay any license fees of course you just give it to your friend and then your friend has the ability to print out all those objects that we saw on the previous slide and lots of other things beside this is actually the very first time that the machine copied itself that's me on the left with a slightly projecting stomach and the balding head and the chap on the right with the ponytail is Vic Oliver who's another one of the guys on the core team of the project from New Zealand his was one of the lollipops on New Zealand that you saw on the map earlier the machine on the left is the first machine that we made and you'll see it looks like Eric's machines over there that's version one of the rat rat machine that machine of course there was no reprap machine to make its parts so we made the parts of that on a commercial 3d printer and then that machine on the left made the parts for the machine on the right and that machine on the right was assembled and it made that apparent machine on the left the child machine on the right the machine on the right made its first grandchild part on the twenty-ninth of may 2000 a date and in fact the first part that the machine on the right made was a part for itself and the reason was this you'll notice that there's this chain that runs round here that drives the vertical movement of the three coordinate directions when we put the thing together we discover we've made that chain a little bit too long so it was too slack and so the machine didn't work properly because the vertical movement wasn't being driven properly however we could make it work properly simply by holding a screwdriver against it to give it a bit of tension so what we did was we designed a little cable tensioner which is over here and we then had the machine make that while we held the screwdriver onto it so that it could make it and then we fitted it from shipping than the machine work so not only can it copy itself it can also implicitly when you've got a machine that covers itself it can repair itself
so all this is really like mp3 music sharing but for real solid stuff is another thing from Thingiverse that's a pan and tilt camera mount webcam mount made in the machine and there at the moment the machine only works in plastics we're moving towards having it work with lots of other materials and improving the precision again I'll say a little bit more about this later on ultimately there's no reason why it shouldn't make any stuff it'll be a long time before people use it to make supertankers for shipping all around the world it would be rather less time before people using it to make the equivalent of an iPod okay now this is
the point where I just start pontificating and waving my arms about and so if you feel like disagreeing with anything I say please heckle it makes things so much more interesting this is I contend how the world works there are basically four levels of activity in the world four levels of constraints on what people do and these levels as you go up higher and higher from one to four each level Trump's the level below each level completely dominates the level below at the bottom level there are rules things like you must not eat pork or here you must not drive faster than 50 kilometers an hour and those rules are essentially things written down on pieces of paper by a human being or a group of human beings in the hope sometimes backed up by main force that other human beings will do what those rules say and of course society extract sanctions for people who break the rules if you rob a bank you go to jail for 10 years if you marry someone outside your religion you get executed it's the type of punishment you get sometimes fits the crime sometimes it doesn't but we've got that entire system and that system runs at all sorts of different levels if you're a member of a sports club and you cheat at the sport you've certainly not committed a crime but it may well be that the opprobrium which falls upon your head as a consequence of the disapproval of all your friends is far worse than going to jail and that's the way that human society works at that level above the level of the rules is the level of money and almost always money will trump the rules or make the rules change in order to fit the money as an example in almost everywhere on Earth it's against the rules to ingest the alkaloids made by the poppy on the other hand it one of the most successful businesses in the world is supplying those alkaloids at enormous profit and that business goes on almost entirely unimpeded by the system of rules which lies underneath it and is less powerful in it above the level of the economics and money is biology an example here of how biology trumps economics imagine a 17 year old buying some training shoes that 17 year old was about 200 euros on those training shoes whereas he or she could equal easily buy a pair for 40 euros that would be functionally just as good why according to the rules of classical economics has that person broken those rules of classical economics why have they spent more money on something they need to the answer is because they're not buying training shoes they're buying themselves a peacocks tail in other words they're performing a biological function rather than an economic function and of course above biology is physics physics is the substrate on which all of this operates nowhere in biology is there a perpetual motion machine it is never evolved and the reason that is never of old is because physics makes it impossible the second law of thermodynamics which is about the most solid physical law that we know about says that you can't make a perpetual motion machine so evolution has never hit upon a way of doing that of course the fact that evolution hasn't hit upon something doesn't mean that it is impossible but in this particular case that is impossible okay now what I want to do is to look at reprap how reprap works in the context of the first 3 i'm not going to say very much about physics there's a great deal of physics in rep from the non-newtonian nature of the fluids that the plastic becomes as it melts and so on the way in which the electronics works all of that but I'm not going to be talking about that today there's an enormous amount of detail about that stuff on the project website any of you are interested can go and look up the physics and the engineering of reprap I'm going to look at the first three today let's start with the rules and and as far as a home three-dimensional printer is concerned the system of rules that we have to be consider are what are called registered and unregistered rights things like trademarks and what's called passing off things like copyright which is an average to write patent and registered and unregistered design um I should make the conventional caveat here of I am NOT a lawyer however lot of what I'm going to tell you about is actually research done by a lawyer guy called Simon Bradshaw and here and i have written a paper on the legal aspects of reprap and similar machines which we hope is going to appear in the edinburgh law review the law here that I'm talking about is the law in the United Kingdom which is almost identical to the rest of European law there's a great deal of commonality across the whole of European Union on how these laws work but it is different in the United States and that's an important point and where I know about differences i mentioned them but i may not mention every last one and let's look at these in detail Oh incidentally as I go along i should say on the writer in the bottom of my slides from now on there just be little examples and things made in rat rat machines which i may or may not comment on as we go through but if you get bored with what i'm saying you can at least look at the little object on the bottom right and that as you can see is a little miniature television for an ipod cabinet television cabinet yes okay um trademarks well you all know what trademarks are there things like Exxon or the shape of the coca-cola or whatever written in that curly script passing off is the offense in law of selling a fake Rolex watch it's it's making it appear that something is manufactured by a famous company when in fact it's not now this is fairly straightforward if you rat rat something including a trademark or if you try to pass it off as a product that was made by a famous company then you are a bad person according to the law the law is completely straight forward on this if you fake a trademark or if you fake a product then that's against the law and that's it and and there's really not any great dispute about that however there's not a great deal in center to do those things it always seems to me that this though imitation as the cliche goes is the sincerest form of flattery we as a community should all have the courage of our convictions and when we make something say that we made it not try and pretend that coca-cola made it so I don't think that's a serious such a restriction on anything that we might want to do and copyright copyright is a little bit more involved in particular the law isn't all that well written if you look at section 4 of the appropriate act in the United Kingdom it has a definition of sculpture that says sculpture includes a castle model cast or model made for purposes of sculpture which the philosophers among you will see lacks a certain amount of usefulness as a definition but what we're talking about here is two possibilities in the three-dimensional objects printed by the machine figurines obviously if you make a little mickey mouse figurine maybe Mickey Mouse is copyright copyright by Disney and so maybe you have infringed there copper right in that figure or images on surfaces if you emboss an image on the surface of something that is copyright then you've infringe the copyright and again the law is fairly clear on that that's what you've done but it's important to realize that the right of copyright is actually fairly restricted so for example if you have an industrial prototype that is not a copyright so just take an example if you've got a win
mirror for a Ford Focus that wing mirror is not itself copyright cannot be the design documents for it are copyright in other words if you're going to Ford's main office and you download the file from the company geometric modeling program that designed the wing mirror then that is a copyright file and if you take that file then you've broken the copyright but this is an important point making something from a copyright design is not an infringement of that copyright in other words the document is copyright you must not copy the document but if you use the document to manufacture something you have not infringed the copyright so though the design documents for all sorts of industrial products are copyright using them is not an infringement of copyright and if you reverse engineer them yourself and use your reverse engineered version you have not infringed the copyright in the original document and there's a famous piece of case law here of the Star Wars knitting patterns a woman put a set of knitting patterns out on the web for people to knit Darth Vader helmet there's a Darth Vader helmet made in a reprap machine and Lucasfilm tried to sue her for infringement of their copyright in the original drawings they made for Darth Vader's helmet and the artist who did those who Lucasfilm obviously had copyright in his or her drawings and they tried to say this woman was infringing their copyright but in fact the courts ruled that this was not an infringement because though if she'd made a drawing that was the same she would have infringed the copyright making a knitting pattern to make the three-dimensional object was not an infringement another thing that's not widely known about copyright what is widely known is the copyright extends for an enormous answer time I think of 70 years after the death of the copyright holder or something but if your Disney and you allow someone to put Mickey Mouse on a child's pencil case then the clock starts ticking on the copyright on Mickey Mouse and 25 years after the first used a design on an industrially distributed product like a pencil case for a child then the copyright in that design disappears so the use of a copyright object in something that's sold in that way actually restricts the time of copyright on it patents typically have a 20-year term and here the exception is again completely express it explicit excuse me if you make something that's patented but it's for your private not for gain use in other words you make it in your own home and you just use it yourself and you don't sell it then you not infringe the patent this is one of the locations where the law is different in the United States for the law in Europe if you use a reprap machine in the United States to make something that's patented then you have infringed the patent even if you're only going to just use it yourself in Europe that's perfectly permitted another use that's permitted is experimental use if you make something to experiment with it that's patented in particular if your experimenter to try and improve it then you're allowed to do that however the not for gain exemption is not enough on its own so for example if you're a schoolteacher you've got a reprap machine and use it to print out test tube racks which happen to be patented for use by your class of school children then you have infringed the pattern even though you're not using it to make money another offense against patent is supplying the means and this is interesting what that means is that if you design an object that's patented and you print it yourself just for your own use that's fine if you distribute that design on the web you're supplying the means to infringe the patent and you've offended against the patent now there's a limit to how far that offense goes pretty clearly if you sell people screwdrivers you're supplying them with a means to infringe a patent if the patented object needs a screwdriver to put it together and the law is not completely stupid it allows you to sell screwdrivers and lathes and implicitly given that it allows you to supply lathe because the lathe could be used to make a patented object and that's not an infringement reprap machines obviously going to fall under that as well so the machine itself is not going to be nailed down by people saying this allows us to infringe patents in the same way that anybody can sell photocopiers for example unregistered and unregistered design the first thing to say about this is that parts of a machine that's sold by a company that have either registered their design in those parts or just implicitly left the design there but failed to register it bits and pieces are only protected if they can be seen in normal use in other words anything that's inside the works under the cover cannot be protected by registered design or unregistered design and there's no protection for technical function in other words if a given design achieves a given technical result then if you do the same technical result by a different design you haven't infringe the infringe the design right there's also an exception for things that must fit to other things so if you make a spare part in your ret wrap machine for your car and it has to be a certain shape in order to fit with the rest of the car then again you haven't infringed the registered design in the original part made by General Motors or whatever it might be and finally the restore appearance exception if you make that wing mirror for your car in your reprap machine the wing mirror housing and it has to be the same shape as the original wing mirror in order to restore the appearance of the car then again even if the original design was registered you're allowed to do that so to summarize all of this the law as far as people making things to themselves is concerned is pretty unrestricted you can do more or less whatever you like unless you infringe trademark or in very in very restricted cases copyright patent doesn't effect you registered design doesn't infect you affect you and because you're not selling anything you're not guilty of the passing off offense so people doing things for themselves the law basically doesn't touch them at all certainly in Europe once you start selling things then restrictions start to come in on you a little bit more but even there things are fairly liberal okay let's chip chip on to the next thing let's look at economics I mentioned that it costs 350 euros to get all the materials together to make one of these machines as we as I speak the cheapest non open source 3d printer that you can buy in the world is the SD 300 made by solid 0 and that cost twelve thousand euros now there's a big difference between twelve thousand euros and three hundred and fifty euros this is actually rather an interesting difference it's a difference that occurs for a very straightforward reason and that is that almost all of the 3d printing technologies have been patented and they've been sold by the patent rights holders up until now and is just now that all those patents are starting to come out of their term however industry has started dropping the price is a little bit but not very much and it's going to be very interesting to see how all the open source 3d printers that are derivatives a reprap things like the MakerBot machine the bits from bites machine and so on which of all coming in at really low costs namely a few hundred euros each are going to affect the main part of the rapid prototyping industry just to give you an example MakerBot I should declare an interest here I own shares in MakerBot MakerBot make a machine in a laser cutter which is the derivative of R a trap but it can't reproduce itself though it's an open source design you can you can if you've got a laser cutter you can make one yourself MakerBot are I've been trading for less than a year and they're already selling almost as many machines for much
less money almost as many machines the top-selling non open source producer of 3d printers almost all the commercial systems are using the Hewlett Packard ink cartridge strategy as their economic model you all know how this works hewlett-packard gives you printers and then they charge you Frank sir propriety has too many syllables in it but yes ok I'll try to do so pick me up every time I do it but I'll try it try not to do it ok you all know how the HP cartridge strategy works HP give you printers and charge you freak and they charge you silly prices for ink and as a consequence they have a great deal of people with big problems they can be cool problems with people making compatible cartridges and so on all the proprietary thank you systems use the same strategy for the supply of their plastic that you have to put in the machine for it to build things typically if you buy a cartridge for one of the main machines that will cost about 300 euros and that contains about 20 euros worth of plastic and that's a big markup of course of this machine that strategy cannot work if somebody tries to put one of these machines out of a variation on it where you need a specific cartridge to operate it people are just going to design round that and so that can never happen finally I'm not sure if this quite comes under the heading or economics it seemed the best place to put it the whole idea of home recycling we all throw away significant quantities of plastic goods and typically what happens to those is there put in big containers and shipped overseas for recycling an enormously wasteful process even though it's less wasteful and not recycling at all one of the things that I wanted to do for a little while with this machine is to have the machine make a plastic shredder that you can for example feed plastic milk bottles into it would shred them and then have the machine have a right head that you can feed those shredding Xin to and it would print objects out in fact there's a pair of child shoes that were made out of the same plastic that people make milk bottles out of and of course what this means is you can print your child shoes using milk bottles you've got an entirely local recycling route no trucks going anywhere what's more when your children's feet grow out of the shoes you just shred the shoes again shred in another milk bottle scale the design by 1.1 and you've got a new pair of shoes one of the key things of course about the production or anything is labor costs and another aspect of economics is the capital you require to start manufacturing something and as we all know manufacturing industry is migrating or indeed has migrated to China the Far East to India and also to countries like Brazil and so on where labor costs are low and that's the reason why manufacturing is going to those locations however if you want to start up a factory in China to make digital watches you still have to invest a hundred million dollars in your factory of course in order to set up making things with one of these machines you only need to invest a few hundred dollars and what this does is to change the economics of starting to get a foot on the first rung of the ladder to make things what it means is that if you're a small community in an impoverished area of the world you don't need a hundred million dollars to start a factory to start manufacturing things you only need a few hundred dollars as that community to start making these possibly for the use of just your friends around about near nearby to start off with which would obviously improve their economic well-being in terms of material goods that are available to them at least but then you start selling them and because your labor costs a even lower in the most impoverished parts of the world than they are even in China and India then you gain that little bit of advantage as well another interesting aspect of the machine is the plastic that as I say works best in it which is this stuff poly lactic acid um you might imagine that you'd be dependent on dupont or whatever to supply this to you in fact you can grow your own poly lactic acid can be made from starch so if you've got a few tens of square meters of land where you can grow starch crop like corn or potatoes you've not only got a machine that self replicating you've got a self-replicating supply of the raw material it's slightly tricky to make in one step there are four steps to making your own poly lactic acid from cellular from starch so one of them is difficult one you have to get it very very dry I don't mean you just leave it in the Sun to dry out I mean you've got to getting it down to 10 parts per million of water and that is a little bit tricky when we done this in our lab we've done it by just passing dry nitrogen over it from a cylinder just an ordinary nitrogen cylinder that worked and Ike injector that we haven't tried this that it should be possible to do it with dry air made by drying the air through dry calcium chloride but that's something we haven't tried yet we need to do but it's possible to have one of these machines and to be independent of the world's chemical industry for your supply of the polymer that it uses and all this of course tends to make manufacturing much more like agriculture agriculture is our oldest industry and it's entirely concerned with things that copy themselves that's how agriculture works agriculture works by making economic use of things that copy themselves whether that's cows or wheat they're all things that copy themselves this machine covers itself it makes making stuff in the engineering sense economically much more like agriculture okay let's move on to biology now I've mentioned agriculture if you've got something that covers itself it's going to grow exponentially of course it can't grow without limit but nonetheless where opportunity exists it will grow exponentially so let's take an example and every day plastic object for which many of you got use those you can see I don't comb on the left traditionally if you want to make one of these what you do is you buy the machine on the aight cuz to two hundred thousand euros or whatever it's an injection-molding machine and you fill it out with nylon and you make some dyes the shape of a comb and this thing injects the nylon into the dyes and combs gets back out at the bottom and it makes ten thousand it makes a lot of combs it makes them fast and it's a really effective process a very expensive capital cost but it's a quick process as I mentioned before a reprap machine takes two and a half days to copy itself let's suppose in those two and a half days that it's got just enough time left to make one pathetic little comb compared with this great machine churning out 10,000 10,000 now now you all know the power of an exponential growth so the question is how many days before the reprap machines overtake the injection molder the answer is 20 days and then the reprap machines are making more cones than the injection molder after a month there's a reprap machine for every man woman and child on the planet now that's not going to happen for the same reason that we're not out to our necks in rabbits everything that grows exponentially in number always runs up against resource limitations eventually of course in the case of the machines it will be places to put them it'll be whether people want them or not and it'll be the materials from which to make them just disease for living organisms the reason why we haven't got rabbits up to our necks is because there's not enough grass for them all to eat
what do people do when they get access to things that copy themselves well the answer is they do this sort of trick they turn those things into those things I contend that this is actually humanity's most powerful technology nothing we've done since the Industrial Revolution touches it touches this for sheer elegance and power why is it so powerful well for a number of reasons the first reason is you don't need to know how any of this works in order to use this technology you can use this technology if you believe that the Sun orbits the earth indeed most people who have used this technology believe precisely that historically speaking it allows you to manipulate matter at the molecular level the level of DNA without even knowing what a molecule is all you need to know to apply this is what you want to end up with and then the fact that the objects copy themselves does all the rest of the work for you and of course one of the reasons again why this is such a powerful technology is it's the technology that feeds us all there are far too many people in the world starving but we'd all be starving if aarons as well we all look fairly well fared I'm afraid we're all be starving if our ancestors hadn't done this with wild grass to make the material that feeds us either directly in the form bread or indirectly in the form of the meat that we lamb so that's what people do with things that copy themselves of
course as far as direct wraps concerned people as soon as the designs out there start making variations on it and again this is just some stuff that I downloaded from thingiverse when I was putting this talk together these are all variations on the standard design of the machine that people have posted back on the web and things that copy themselves are of course necessarily subject to Darwin's law of evolution and there will be random mutations that occasionally happen in the software or the hardware and those might just conceivably be improvement but the thing that really drives the evolution of the machine is much something much closer to the idea of selective reading the thing that we do to turn the wolf into the dogs in that is consciously driven by people saying i want this bit to look like and that was what will really drive the evolution of machine forward so we've
got improvement by breeding one of the things to note incidentally is that old machines can make new designs i mentioned that Eric's machines over there are the first design that we did this is the second design this is my own personal machine that I have at home i also have a machine at home just like the first design and all the reprap parts of this machine were made in my first machine at home so you've got a new design for the machine you happen to have an old machine you can use that old machine to make the latest design and one of the principles of the project that we're going to stick to is that design n is always going to be manufacturable but design n minus 1 it may well be the design 10 can't be manufactured by design one but there will always be a continuous chain through all the versions of it so that you can get to the latest design from wherever you are and of course I slightly stretch biological analogy this is a little bit like horizontal gene transfer in you've got old machines acquiring information that's been the product of an evolutionary process and use that information to upgrade themselves what are the sorts of things that people are going to do to improve the design of the machine well they're going to make it faster Eric's already working on that this is really important make it simpler for people to put it together at the moment you have to be a person rather like all of us in this room to put one of these machines together ideally we'd like to get it to the point where a reasonably technically competent but not technically highly educated person can put the entire machine together and get it working make it more accurate at the moment it's accurate to about point one of a millimeter you can improve that we can make things more precisely of course if you're added in parts I mentioned about half the bits you have to buy externally to put in for machine we obviously want to reduce that proportion and indeed there's a prize now available for eighty thousand dollars from the foresight Institute just been announced to improve reprap to impress the proportion of parts that it can print itself so if you want to go out and design a new machine and have a crack at that prize excellent go for it slightly more abstract biological point this is really how I came by the idea for the entire machine and I just want to spend a few moments talking about it we're all familiar with the phenomenon that to laypeople is called symbiosis biologists don't call it symbiosis they call it mutualism so let's stick with the technically correct term symbiosis incident it just means any relationship between two species so for example example lions and antelope have a symbiotic relationship the antelope probably doesn't appreciate it that much but they do from a biological perspective by mutualism biologists mean a relationship of mutual benefit and of course we all know the primary example of this the one we're all taught at school is the relationship between the flowering plants and the insect this evolved about 130 million years ago in the Late Jurassic and it's been going from strength to strength ever since and the way it works of course is that the inter flower needs to get its pollen to another flower but it can't move so it makes nectar which is no use to the plant directly but the insect values the nectar the insect but visits the plant to gather the nectar gets pollen deposited on itself goes to the next plant the pollen gets transferred both species gain a benefit from this relationship both of them are happy and both of them are thereby allowed to survive better than they would otherwise and of course human beings take part in many symbiotic relationships we have a symbiotic relationship with the material that we eat which may sound a bit like the lion and the Antelope except some of these species are incredibly successful as a consequence of this symbiosis for example corn if we look at it from the corns perspective corn has managed to enslave and other species get it to clear vast tracts of land for the benefit of the corn when the corn gets sick we go to the nearest spaceport we throw a satellite into orbit we take its photograph we fly over it and distribute drugs to make it better at the end of the season we gather a sample of its children away and store them most carefully and cold dry conditions so that can get a head start the next we don't do this for our own children heaven's sake so the corn just has to sit there and grow ticket chickens chickens are the most successful bird in evolutionary history in terms of numbers there are 15 billion chickens on earth and the reason for that is simply because they have a symbiotic relationship with the most powerful organism that has ever lived and of course flour and eggs together make cake and so we've got a direct analogy here we get the cake and the corn and the chickens get to reproduce preferentially all right I've got to get on time's up anyway a mutual evolutionary stable strategy is what's been established by the flowers and insects and it's a stable Nash equilibrium RepRap is the same in that
the machine is equivalent to the flowers the people of the equivalent the insects and the goods that the Machine make with that the people value is the equivalent to the nectar and so it seemed to me that the machine ought to have a stable relationship with human beings in exactly the same way as the flowers and insects have a stable relationship we all know that's the wrong way around the area of time actually goes the other way of course instinctive you know that from our intuitive feeling for entropy
however occasionally the area of time appears to go backwards and of course it's evolution that drives that process and it does so by expending energy so it doesn't break the laws of thermodynamics in fact everything on the left gets replaced by the stuff on the right you can all remember I'm sure buying photographic film in rolls I bet none of you can remember what one or two of you probably can't come remember the last time we bought a row lat photographic film they'll be usually show four hands at the moment of nutters who still use film but there we go okay what are the future well you all run your own CD pressing plant your own photographic lab and your own printing player press and of course you do it all courtesy of these devices why shouldn't you run your
own factory that makes more factories that's all I could say there's the
website front have a look thank you very much indeed has how long have you got for questions or anytime couple of minutes okay yeah if anyone's got a question yep all right sorry I stand corrected clearly they must be they must really exist and the second law of thermodynamics is nonsense as demonstrated by ebay anyone else sorry I louder yep well there are two ways you can go about printing PCBs we're not quite I I heard it sorry for everybody else's benefit you said what about other materials in particular printing PCBs there are two ways we think that there might be possible to make PCBs one is a fairly obvious way of putting a cutting head in the machine and milling or PCBs and I've actually got a design for that which I haven't finished I need to get on with it that will use a dremel and the flexible extension cable you can get with the dremel to allow you to mill the PCB in the machine and that will make a conventional PCB and that should work fairly straightforwardly I think the other a more interesting way is to have a material that's electrically conductive and to deposit that with a machine and in fact I've just taken on a research student to work on precisely that problem and other problems he's already got several conducting pastes and he's got the design for a paste extruder that was based on the paste extruder called the thruster udah that the MakerBot guys did and so we'd be putting those together in the veil you fell in your future whether they actually allow us to make a PCB that works is something that'll be interesting to see but are you planning to hold any events this year to help people build reprap but not me personally but there are a number that are going on I'm afraid that my time is pretty much occupied by running the project in developing the machine and coming to events like this which thank you again so there will be several for example I know University in Scotland that is running a series of courses on building these machines for school teachers so there are lots of events like that that other people are organising since the machine builds objects in layers what are the physical limitations on the kind of objects that you can make well the principal limitation is the resolution machine I mentioned that it's accurate to appoint one of a millimeter that's in the x and y the horizontal plane you can set the thickness of the layers but typically the thickness that we use to build most objects is point three of a millimeter so it's actually rather coarse are in the vertical direction than the horizontal rection now that's ok for making most part but it's not for example as accurate as a conventional machine tool that cuts metal that will be 10 times more accurate than this machine so that's one aspect of the limitation the other is at the moment the machine works with thermoplastics we're fairly sure that we can move it indeed we're going we're designing a head changes so the machine can swap heads and work with different materials inside itself automatically we can move it so it'll work with any material that's a paste at room temperature so it'll be things like ceramic slip for example we'll be able to make objects in ceramic slip which you will then be able to fire in a kill and you'll then have a refractory object that will withstand high temperatures the conducting pastes I already mentioned in response to the previous question another material that will work quite well and machine we know this from the fab at home project is silicone rubber you can extrude that as a paste and build flexible objects with it and that's actually rather useful because you can make objects that are rigid in one area and flexible in another area so you've got a single entity which has a built-in hinge or whatever it might be or a built in spring and that's unvarying you can do with silicon very useful used to make seals which are either water or gas type so so that'll be convenient as well no well short answer your question is I'm not doing anything to improve the resolution because it's good enough for me but i would love to encourage the community to improve the resolution there are a number of different ways you could go about doing it you mentioned feedback you could certainly put servos in place of the stepper motors and then the resolution the machine would depend upon the PID control you did on the servos and the measuring device that you use for measuring the linear movement you can certainly get very accurate magnetic rotary encoders now from a company in Austria you can get rotary encoders that will do 4096 steps per revolution for example and that would allow us to make a very accurate machine indeed if we incorporated those into it
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