Friday, March 18, 2005

Desktop Manufacturing Reaching Critical Mass

Add another one to the list. A machine that can rapid prototype and replicate is in development. It will be released as open source meaning anyone will be able to use the machine to copy itself and distribute them. Distributed desktop manufacturing is moving pretty fast now. There is no question as to the feasibility. It's only a matter of time.

(This is part of a developing story about the rise of personal desktop fabrication and replicators).

Over the past few years we've seen a growing number of university teams approaching cheap personal prototyping from different angles. Each quietly adding to the pool of ideas from which the next efforts will draw.

Wired Magazine, in November 2004 covered Neil Gershenfeld's work at MIT.

Gershenfeld's can produce solid objects like eyeglass frames, action figures and electronic devices like radios and computers.

Another approach to rapid prototyping and manufacturing uses inkjet technology. Inkjet Printers spitting out polymer instead of ink, manufacturing solar cells, batteries, complete working gadgets, human tissue and computer circuitry.

Researchers Hod Lipson and Jordan B. Pollack at Brandeis University have coupled inkjet technology and software to autonomously design and fabricate robots without human intervention.
Google Search

The software simulates a variety of rudimentary virtual robots. In an accelerated Darwinian contest of survival over hundreds of generations, the most successful robotic designs are then *automatically* physically prototyped. Robots autonomously designing, testing and manufacturing robots.

We're very close.


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