DevHardware has a rather lengthy article talking about the current state of affairs in 3D printing in their article, "The Printer That Prints Itself". The article describes Dr. Adrian Bowyer's quest to reduce the cost of 3D printing from the many tens of thousands of dollars to levels affordable by hobbyists. His open source strategy ultimately resulted in the RepRap project. The goal of the project was to be able to reproduce itself.
We say "was" because this past year a RepRap machine finally did print out the parts required to build another copy of itself. However, it was parts, so we suspect it might not quite fit the proper definition of reproduction, but it's a fabulous step nevertheless.
- Development of a RepRap ecosystem, including various 3rd party providers of materials, parts and add-ons.
- A rationalization of the current slow printing speed of RepRap devices, based on the idea that in remote areas, such a printer could be the only method of obtaining certain types of objects.
- Proposes a recycling aspect to RepRap, in which a shredding attachment could recycle unused objects into raw material for new objects.
- Description of the three species of RepRap devices: Zahphod, Tommelise and Darwin.
- Recognition that the machine cannot actually print every single part required; fine electronics aren't quite there yet, but there are developments in that area. Evidently only 60% of the parts can be made today.
- Proposes the startling idea that the notion of copyright for music today is essentially non-existent and that a similar situation will occur with objects when large quantities of 3D printers are on the loose.
- Only 100 fully operational RepRap devices exist today (although more could be under construction anywhere, right now.)