We've seen tremendous achievements in recent years through the excitement generated by a series of startling X-prize challenges. Now there's one addressing 3D printing, specifically the RepRap project. The Gada prize, to be awarded to a winning team on January 1st, 2013, intends on dramatically improving the capability of open source 3D printing. Some USD$20,000 is already allocated for the grand prize.
So what's the challenge exactly? Like X-prizes, it's really going to stretch the minds of the challengers, as there are a number of incredible capabilities to produce. The key capabilities are:
- Ability to print at least three different materials, including one that is usefully electrically conductive.
- Ability to print electronic circuit boards.
- Print beds must be of a material which may be reused with minimal refurbishment for at least 20 print cycles.
- Maintain a total materials and parts cost under $200 and that 90% of the volume of the printer parts be printed.
- Demonstrate a build volume of the printer above 300x300x100mm in order to ensure that items of daily utility can be printed.
- The capacity to print a full set of parts for a complete replica of itself within 10 days unattended save for clearing no more than one printer head jam.
- Ability to print autonomously without a PC attached.
- Uses no more than 60 watts of electrical power.
Asked to comment about this challenge, Asst. Director of R&D, Humanity+, Bryan Bishop said:
There are almost 20 teams involved and registered already. I have heard good things about all of them. What I want to happen is personal manufacturing to really take off here-- so if Humanity+ sees a lot of activity and progress around this, more prizes are in the near future. The Gada Prize is a good place to start because it's feasible, some of the criteria points have been done before in commercial 3D printers, now it's time to have it happen in open source hardware. It's going to be a wild ride!
What does this mean? Well, for one thing RepRaps will be a lot more interesting in two years. For another, that tech will no doubt be adopted by derivatives public and commercial, making the 3D printer market a whole lot bigger and brighter.