Monday, 28 September 2009

What if we didn't need factories any more?

That is the thought-provoking possibility suggested by the RepRap project. RepRap is a simple 3D printer that can make plastic objects to any design, on your desk, using an ordinary PC. It can even make a copy of itself. It's entirely open source and freely distributable.

Ryerson University, the University of Western Ontario, Rabble and The Tyee have also started a very interesting multimedia project to explore this technology and the effects it will have on society further, called Maker Culture. You can read a good introduction by Wayne MacPhail here.

I am intrigued to see where this might lead. Developments in computing capability and internet technology have given us recording studios, photo labs, broadcasting studios, video editing suites and printing presses from our desktop - and have completely changed those industries as a result.

What changes can we expect in the world's manufacturing industries if goods no longer needed to be manufactured and distributed, but instead you downloaded a design and printed it yourself at home (much like you download an MP3 or movie and burn a CD or DVD now)?

Certainly this is a technology in its infancy, but full of promise. I can't wait to see how this develops.

Posted via web from Bowyer's Bite-size Blogettes