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June 2, 2010 AT 2:01 pm

The Rise of the Replicators

Tom Simonite at New Scientist has put together this excellent article about replicator robots. He writes:

I AM standing in a cold north London workshop looking expectantly at a bizarre metal and plastic contraption. An acrid smell drifts from the machine as a length of plastic is drawn into a barrel at its centre and heated up. The molten plastic squirts from a nozzle onto a platform moving beneath it, drawing a pattern. The nozzle also moves up and down to build the design upwards like an expert cake icer.

Over the next few minutes, this “MakerBot” will do something I can only dream of doing: it will create a spare part of itself as an insurance against future mishaps. Staring at the Heath Robinson-style kit before me, it is hard to believe that it – and a few hundred other devices – are paving the way to an era of desktop machines that can make just about anything, including copies of themselves.


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