Weekend Electronics Project – RepRap
Think about the last time you broke something in your home - a cup, a plate, a coat hook, a window handle, the battery cover on your TV remote, a component in an electronic device, a hinge, a switch. Instead of having to throw away the whole device, or trawl the web trying to find a costly spare part, imagine if you could recreate the item you need on your very own 3D printer. Now imagine if such a 3D printer could make all its own parts, as well.
The notion of self-replication is nothing new, but until recently such technology was either the realm of science fiction or well beyond the budget of the average home user.
Researchers at the University of Bath gained worldwide attention in 2005 when they announced the RepRap project. It's an open source self-copying, rapid-prototyping machine that can manufacture mechanical parts and even reproduce itself.
RepRap is short for Replicating Rapid-prototyper - a self-replicating machine often referred to as a 3D printer that can manufacture components by building them up in layers of plastic. This technique is known as Fused Deposition Modelling Rapid Prototyping.
The team behind the RepRap concept have put together all the instructions needed for anyone to build their own RepRap. So, if you're a keen electronics hobbyist, why not build your own 3D printer? It's an electronic assembly project that's not only fun but will provide you with a really useful device that would cost thousands of pounds to buy ready-assembled.