This is a reprap machine (a Makerbot version, to be specific). It’s a 3D printer that can print any small shape (at least as a plastic model)… Now, what if the reprap could also use metal, silicon, and other materials and somehow incorporate these materials into its printed models?
Well, thanks to researchers at Yale, there’s a new metal that’s like plastic…. which means the plastruder, the part of the reprap that actually extrudes the plastic liquid onto the reprap stage in the form of hardened plastic (mine is pictured below), can now be re-engineered to incorporate the new plastic-like metal, called bulk metallic glasses (BMG), that Yale is pioneering.
What’s better is that the the reprap architecture and the RepicatorG software (which tells the reprap how to print) is completely open-source.
Once the multi-material reprap has been developed, rest assured that the Foxconn factories in China, where Apple produces its i-devices, will be flooded with orders from hardware companies all around the world. Oh wait, repraps can print themselves… so there won’t be any use for mass-production… we’ll all just print them out for ourselves and our friends at-cost. And with the introduction of BMGs, we’ll be able to print out cell phones, tablets, car parts, and other useful things. This is a disruptive technology if I ever heard of one.
Check out the 1st generation of what’s being created today on Thingoverse.