" Many of you may have heard of the MIT Fab Lab – a mini factory where you can make just about anything. If you have $100k to spend, you can get one for your home.
What if we reduce the price of this toolset by a factor of 10? While we are at it, why not add about five times the functionality in that price? That is exactly what we plan on doing: RepLab – the open source Fab Lab.
Sounds unreal? Yes, prior to the internet age. Now we have open source development – and the price of hardware is dropping drastically. My favourite example is RepRap, the 3D printer – which you can build for $300 in parts – because the plans are available for free. A commercial version would cost you about $20k - or over 60 times more.
So how do we go about achieving this unimaginable feat?
That’s what you and I will figure out. "
It's ok if each and every individual machine can't make *any* of its own parts, as long as the collection of machines as a whole are collectively mostly self-replicating -- what MattMoses calls "Cyclic Fabrication Systems".
Equipment and Projects
- Laser Cutter
- SplineScan Cabinet
- CNC Mill
- CNC Router
- CNC Lathe
- Vinyl Cutter
- 3D Printer -> RepRap
- Plasma Cutter
- solar cell manufacturing
- additive metal part printer -> metal deposition print head -> MetalicaRap
- Waterjet Cutter
There is a functional Google Group with some traffic:
Economic Model (Quick, to the Spreadsheet!)
- How much does the machine cost to make?
- What is the existing market for these machines? What machines are selling, and are they any good?
- How much does this machine cost in the marketplace to buy? (Including a service contract).
- How much does the machine cost to run? (Including 'machine operator' time).
- What's the 'mental overhead' that the user/builder encounters by building your machine, rather than buying a machine with a known trackrecord from a salesperson and getting a service contract?
- What's the worth of the parts the machine is making?
- What are the opportunity costs you and the machine encounter by "making fasteners" rather than more specialized, higher worth components or objects? Like the spindle for a CNC mill, toys for your children, or a prosthetic leg.
- Is it fun?
- Visit a production workshop using one of these machines. What is their economic model?
- Visit/websurf a hobby/cottage industry/academic technical workshop that uses one of these machines? What is their economic model?
- If you build or buy a huge machine, does it take over your workshop and lifestyle?
Examples: 10'x18' CNC Router, Bronze Foundry (for art bronze), Aluminum Foundry.
What is feasible to build? When do you want to buy rather than make?
- Threaded rod.
- stepper motor drivers, aka Stepper Motor Controllers
- Aluminum Billet
- 3D printer -> RepRap
- plasma cutter.
- Small CNC router --> CNC Router ?
- Huge CNC router -> MegaRap ?
- Wooden hand plane