Self-replicating rapid prototypers!


Staff member

Basically, the idea is to take a 3d printer, which many industries use already to create small prototypes or emergency machinery parts, and program it to build a copy of itself, and in turn the copy will build copies of itself as well, dropping the price on these machines really fast. Instructions & Code will be published for free online in the next 4 years, assuming it can be done. Really cool stuff!
Cool... but what is stoping someone from getting a patent on his machine and restricting repoduction. I think he should get a patent to protect his idea but still keep the source code free and allow machines to be replicated. If not some big corp might stop this from happening so that they are not put out of buisness.

On the other hand it seems that the machine can only make plastic and low temp metal. How do you get the brains for the machine?
If the patent office is doing it's job, once the device is in the public domain like that it's very difficult for someone else to patent it. However, they can patent variations. And don't assume that current patents don't already cover this.

If he patents it and puts it in the public domain, he will effectively lose the patent anyway. You must be willing to fight patent infringement in order to protect the patent. And if you don't protect it, it's easier for others to abuse it or patent something similar enough to cause difficulty for other people trying to use it.

Because of material limitations, most of these machines are used to make mock-ups or prototypes and not working machines. I'd be surprised if he can make a machine with enough precision (and durability) to make a copy of itself that is just as good. And the control electronics will still need to be added (at what out-of-pocket cost?).

All that being said, I would really like it if someone was able to come up with one of these at a normal consumer price (even if it can't make a copy of itself). I could definitely use one for prototypes and model making.

Let's hope for the best.