RepRap: Here comes the age of self-replicating machines

To Bath to meet Dr Adrian Bowyer, the father of the world’s first self-replicating machine. The RepRapis a kind of 3-D printer that can fashion fairly crude objects out of molten plastic.  Last week, Bowyer appeared at the Cheltenham Science Festival with Vik Olliver and a pair of RepRaps.  The Second machine had been partially (though significantly) fabricated from a “parent” machine.  The pair are claiming it as a major step forward towards a self-replicating machine.

Talk to most lay-people about self-replicating machines and most start talking about Terminator movies and the fictional Skynet computer that will eventually take over the world. Delightful nonsense of course, but self-replicating machines could eventually assist developing countries develop a cheaper form of manufacture.

Like his original RepRap machine, Bowyer is the father of the RepRap rather than the inventor. Although he came up with the concept, many others have contributed. It was Olliver’s machine that begot the first “child”, not Bowyer’s. This is because Bowyer has open sourced his ideas, effectively giving them to the whole world and waving goodbye to potential profits. Although as he told me, its very difficult to make money from a self-replicating machine. You could probably only sell the first one.