As I’ve written about before, some extremely cool stuff has come out of the home fabbing hobbyist camp of late.
This machine, for example, can replicate itself (given the right materials). Of course it’s primative, but you get the idea. A machine that costs $2,000 to make could potentially begin to make its way into the developing world (evidence of the utility of something like this can be found over at Afrigadget.) Hook up one of Negroponte’s laptops, download a design from Ponoko, throw in some raw materials, and you have a locally produced product.
Lipson and Malone’s machine is different in that it can use a number of materials, from plastics to metals with a low melting point, unlike the current rapid prototyping machines that tend to use just quick drying plastics.
“This makes them useful for making parts or components, but not for making complete systems. We’re aiming to make integrated systems, including circuitry and sensors … It’s not technology that will replace existing manufacturing process, but is more likely to augment it, by doing things that current techniques can’t do,” Lipson told CNN.