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Machine Prints 3D Copies Of Itself

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the breed-like-robots dept.

Robotics 341

TaeKwonDood writes "Automated machines have been around for decades. They have basically been dumb devices that do simple assembly tasks. But RepRap takes that a step further because, instead of assembling pre-fabricated parts, it creates 3-D objects by printing them — squirting molten plastic in layers — and then building them up as the plastic solidifies. It works on coat hooks, door handles and now it can even make working copies ... of itself. The miracle of additive fabrication, coming soon to a robotic overlord near you."

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341 comments

I... (4, Funny)

Fackamato (913248) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666157)

... for one, welcomes our new self-replicating copy machine overlods.

Re:I... (1, Insightful)

jo42 (227475) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666341)

Yeah, whatever. It might be able to 'print' itself, but it still needs a human brain and hands to assemble it and actually make it work. :-p

Re:I... (5, Informative)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666463)

It can't even print itself as it still requires non-printed parts.

Re:I... (5, Interesting)

Sebastien_Bailard (1034810) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666559)

Fussing that RepRap is not 'perfectly self-replicating' yet is an extremely common criticism. This pedantic but factually true statement glosses over the fact that it's a machine that cheaply and easily makes its own parts*, using inexpensive feedstock. And it can make other useful things. That's the important stuff, which your criticism fails to address.

*Aside from common stuff from a hardware store and an electronics store.

(Yes, I'm a RepRap developer, and yes, that's a cut-and-paste.)

Obligatory Futurama (5, Funny)

Bwian_of_Nazareth (827437) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666759)

And it can make other useful things. That's the important stuff, which your criticism fails to address.
Fry: Isn't that the machine that makes noses?

Professor Farnsworth: It can do other things, why shouldn't it!

Re:I... (5, Insightful)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666931)

I love the idea of the RepRap as much as the next geek. But it's been posted on Slashdot at least three times that I can recall, and the headline or summary has always claimed, as this one does also, the factually incorrect statement that the "Machine Prints 3D Copies Of Itself". It doesn't. It's cool and all, and it's getting there, but it doesn't.

Re:I... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23667021)

Perhaps this criticism is extremely common because someone keeps claiming that RepRap is self replicating, when in fact it is not?

Re:I... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23666713)

What it does is print the plastic parts needed to make a copy of itself - you still need steel rods, motors, nuts and bolts, nichrome wire to make the heater core and a handful of small Anduino circuit boards. And of course you have to bolt it together yourself. Pretty soon it should be able to make its own circuit boards - but you'll still need to add electronic components.

It's a significant step - but the slashdot blurb wildly over-sells it.

Re:I... (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666469)

..at least, until a human makes it print a version of itself that automatically makes copies of itself. Interesting experiment, what could go wrong?

Re:I... (1)

njcoder (657816) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666457)

... for one, welcomes our new self-replicating copy machine overlods.
Just remember, if you can't outsmart them, get the stupid people to defeat them.

Re:I... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23666613)

it's ALIVE!!!!!

Re:I... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23666705)

... for one, welcomes our new self-replicating copy machine overlods.
Are you welcoming Slashdot?

One step closer to the robot invasion (5, Funny)

winterphoenix (1246434) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666165)

While I appreciate the commercial benefit of this technology, the geek in me is a little more interested in the advancement toward the robot invasion. And by "interested" I meant "excited."

Re:One step closer to the robot invasion (2, Funny)

cpricejones (950353) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666519)

didn't you see stargate sg-1? we're not in the reality that has met the asgaard yet either ...

Dupe! (4, Informative)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666187)

Haven't I heard this before?

Re:Dupe! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23666191)

Re:Dupe! (5, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666213)

Great, now even the articles are making copies of themselves!

Re:Dupe! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23666261)

Great, now even the articles are making copies of themselves!

Re:Dupe! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23666619)

Great now even the comments are making copies of themselves!

Re:Dupe! (2, Funny)

kcelery (410487) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666655)

The article itself makes its appearance in slashdot every six months.
The RepRap itself actually does not replicate anything useful.
It would attract more audience if the inventor does not insist the
self replication feature. By replacing the ugly clear glue with hot
flowing chocolate, the machine will be 100 times more welcomed. Then
of course, cold air jet is needed to set the hot molten candy.

Re:Dupe! (2, Funny)

STFS (671004) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666735)

Great, now even the comments are making copies of themselves - and mutating... so eventually we must get intelligent... uhm... comments?!

Re:Dupe! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23666813)

Great, now even the artic1es are making copies of themselves!

Re:Dupe! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23666919)

Great, now even the articles are making copies of themselves!

[I was going for a mod redundant, but the stupid slash code won't let me post an exact copy.]

Re:Dupe! (3, Informative)

NoobixCube (1133473) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666219)

It is a dupe, but when we saw it last, I think it was only theoretically capable of self replication. From the look of the summary, it may actually be capable of it, now. I haven't read the article yet. I came straight to the comments to see if it wasn't just me thinking I'd seen it before.

Re:Dupe! (2, Insightful)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666303)

And I for one welcome our no longer just theoretically feasible new self-replicating plastic robot overlords. I'd like to remind them that as a trusted slashdot personality, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground plastic caves.

Re:Dupe! (3, Informative)

lilomar (1072448) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666325)

The RepRap blog [reprap.org] announced replication several days ago. This is the first time that the machine has been capable of doing this.

Re:Dupe! (2, Informative)

fifedrum (611338) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666395)

but it's still not duplicating the metal parts and the circuits required to drive the copy so it's not duplicating itself so much as printing off plastic casts of parts for a duplicate to use, significant difference between the two states.

a) perfect working copy
b) partial copy

don't get me wrong, it's an awesome device and hell who couldn't use a rapid prototyper at home? I know I could!

Re:Dupe! (4, Informative)

renoX (11677) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666417)

The news here is that it has achieved 'self-replication' (between quotes because the replication is only done for the plastic parts).

The article gives little detail beside the price of the parts: how much time is necessary for the self-replication? what are the skills needed for the assembly?

Re:Dupe! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23666953)

The old article was about self replication too. I don't see any difference between then and now other than the expected refinement.

The parts this thing makes are pretty crappy if you ask me. Like a serious lack of precision. For example, the gears it makes look like shit.

Sweet (5, Insightful)

Ninja_Popsicle (1029246) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666197)

This is take piracy to a whole new level. What fun.

Re:Sweet (4, Insightful)

NoobixCube (1133473) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666269)

Can't wait to print off some Gundam models from 3d model files, instead of shelling out for the expensive model kits :P.

Re:Sweet (4, Informative)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666983)

Won't work with this machine unfortunately ... it lacks a support material, so it can only print a certain, very limited class of 3d shapes.

In fact it can't print any structures that won't retain their shapes when melted to, say 5 degrees below their melting point.

The safe class of objects that it can print are those that are basically straight-up walls upon a flat base. The most complex stuff it would be able to print is a gothic castle (the ones with tiny windows), and you'd have to put the roofs on top of them afterwards.

The "full" class of objects it can print are those where a finite element stress analysis (*with* gravity active obviously) doesn't have any red spots.

(and now translation from technobabble to bad news :)

It can't print Gundam models. At least not directly. For a less limited class of objects you could make 2 half-negatives, allowing you to mass-produce them. You'd have to paint them afterwards.

Close but... (4, Informative)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666201)

...not quite there yet.

FTA (emphasis mine):

The materials, plus the minority of parts that the machine cannot print, cost about £300.
It also does not actually assemble the parts it creates. So close and yet so far.
=Smidge=

Re:Close but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23666237)

Yeah but, for normal 2D printing you still need to buy the ink-supplies as well, right? Ok, these parts are not the same as ink, but it seems fair.

Re:Close but... (5, Informative)

NightWhistler (542034) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666307)

From the pictures in the article it seems to mostly consist of small metal pipes, with pieces of plastic connecting them.... from what I gather it's only able to print the plastic connection parts, so I'm not sure how this counts as "self-replicating".

Also it has a big bunch of wires coming out the back, which I bet are not replicated either... so someone was jumping the gun a bit while writing this article :)

Still... this is some seriously cool technology... if the resulting plastic parts are strong / durable enough it could certainly have a huge impact... essentially being able to download physical objects from the internet...

Re:Close but... (1)

Devout_IPUite (1284636) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666353)

You mean it doesn't count as a copy when it doesn't copy the metal frame of itself or assemble it? Shucks. I was very surprised to see a lack of 'arms' and an abundance of metal on the thing. Seems both of those are required before it can make a true copy.

Re:Close but... (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666741)

I think it's about time I volunteer in my community & start collecting the contents of the plastic recycling bins in front of everyones houses on trash day !

Self-replicating? Not by a long shot (3, Interesting)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666937)

from what I gather it's only able to print the plastic connection parts, so I'm not sure how this counts as "self-replicating"
It doesn't. I'd say you can call something self-replicating if it can reproduce itself using only the essential raw materials. In this case: plastics, metal(s), energy. Perhaps a lot more ingredients, but at least those.

A good comparison is reproducing an OS in a Linux-From-Scratch style (using only source code, disk space and CPU cycles). *THE* thing you need is a C compiler. But to run that, you need a kernel, and a C library below. Then you need shell scripts to automate it, thus a shell. Most sources include makefiles, therefore you need 'make'. And bigger components use all sorts of preprocessing utilities like awk, lex, sed, grep, and so on. All these programs use a variety of standard utilities for copying/removing files, creating directories, etc. So before you get 'full circle', you need a pretty big set of things to reproduce what you start with (think of a compressed Gentoo stage 1).

Maybe this would be a good idea for an X-Prize kind of challenge: create a factory that makes *any commodity of choice*, and keeps itself working indefinitely using just the raw materials, and energy. That is, repairs/rebuilds machines if they break, does maintenance, etc. Say that the only role of humans would be to hit the 'on' switch, stock up supplies/energy, and to keep roof & walls of the building in place. I suspect that even for the simplest kind of product, the minimum size for such a factory would be *huge* if you include stuff like electronics (create new IC's from raw silicium to replace failed ones).

Perhaps all the required technology to do this already exists, but we're still a long way from putting all those parts together.

Reprap.org is self-contradictory (1)

RandoX (828285) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666557)

At the top, it says "RepRap makes its first complete working replicated copy!"

But below, it says: "You could make lots of useful stuff, but interestingly you could also make most of the parts to make another 3D printer. That would be a machine that could copy itself."

(Emphasis added)

Re:Close but... (1)

ahecht (567934) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666627)

Maybe it's a minority in terms of numbers, but from looking at the pictures a majority of the mass of this part was not printed. Basically the machine is made up of metal rods, motors, and wires all held together with plastic brackets and metal screws. All the machine made was the plastic brackets.

Bad business model (5, Funny)

stoofa (524247) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666233)

Won't everyone just buy one, make it clone itself and then send it back for a full refund?

Re:Bad business model (5, Informative)

lilomar (1072448) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666343)

The guys who designed this thing aren't a business. They put the design online and the list of parts online for free, and tell anyone who wants to make one for themselves, then print one off for a friend, who can make one for his friend....

Molding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23666241)

These machines have been around since I was in college. Nothing new here. No one mentions the amount of work you have to do with a razor to make it look right.

God I want one.. (3, Informative)

CFBMoo1 (157453) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666247)

All the times I've owned something and one annoying plastic part breaks ruining the product. With this baby it'd be so easy for companies to send replacement parts at a fraction of the cost I bet.

If I still had my old Dell laptop I'd print the latch that broke off a few years ago.

Re:God I want one.. (1)

drrck (959788) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666723)

The reason a replacement part costs so much isn't due to the direct cost of that part.
The increased cost is all part of the supply chain activities that were needed in order to get that part to you. That part must be stocked in a warehouse, counted, boxed, shipped ect.
Your one part less cost effective to move than the box of 50,000 widgets that the manufacturer gets from its supplier.

Re:God I want one.. (1)

Skrynesaver (994435) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666843)

I think that's his point, the file describing your broken widget can be sent to you for very little indeed. Then load it up in RepRap, print it off and continue on your way

This machine replicates itself ... (2, Informative)

can56 (698639) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666253)

and stories about itself on /. Didn't we have an article/discussion a few days ago, and figured out the only thing this 'self-replicating printer machine' does is make copies of its case?

Re:This machine replicates itself ... (1)

Rhaban (987410) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666321)

And replies about how this story is a dupe are also replicating themselves. I think we're doomed.

Same old thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23666255)

Until it can make a copy from raw material, not prepaired sheets, and make a complete copy, this is nothing exciting.

Rubbish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23666259)

Big deal, it's only a plastic copy of itself. Come back to me when I can use it as well

Ed McMahon Dead at 88 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23666289)

Born in Detroit, Michigan, McMahon was raised in Lowell, Massachusetts, and attended Boston College and The Catholic University of America, majoring in speech and drama. At The Catholic University of America, he joined the Phi Kappa Theta fraternity and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1949.

McMahon began his career as a bingo caller in Maine when he was 15. Prior to working as the announcer, he worked as a carnival barker for three years as a teenager in Mexico, Maine, and put himself through college as a pitchman for vegetable slicers on the Atlantic City boardwalk.

His first broadcasting job was at WLLH-AM in Lowell, Massachusetts, and he began his television career in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In the 1960s, he emceed the game shows Missing Links (when the show moved to ABC, Dick Clark replaced him), Snap Judgment, Concentration and Who Dunnit?,

During World War II, McMahon was trained as a United States Marines fighter pilot and also served as a flight instructor and test pilot. He was discharged in 1946, remaining in the reserves.

After college, McMahon was re-activated into active Marine duty. He was sent to Korea in February 1953. He flew unarmed O-1E Bird Dogs on 85 tactical air control and artillery spotting missions. He remained in the Marine reserves, retiring with the rank of Colonel in 1966 and was then commissioned as a Brigadier General in the California Air National Guard.

Several of his ancestors, including the Marquis d'Equilly, also had long and distinguished military careers. Patrice MacMahon, duc de Magenta was a Marshall of armies in France, serving under Napoleon III, and later President. McMahon once asserted to Johnny Carson that mayonnaise was originally named Macmahonnaise in honor of this ancestor, referring to him as the Comte de MacMahon. In his autobiography, McMahon said that it was his father who told him of this relationship and he went on to suggest that he was not certain of the truth of the story.

Ed McMahon and Johnny Carson first worked together as announcer and host on the daytime gameshow Who Do You Trust? (1957-1962). McMahon and Carson left that to do The Tonight Show in 1962.

For more than 30 years, McMahon introduced the Tonight Show with a drawn-out "Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeere's Johnny!" His booming voice and constant laughter earned him the nickname the Human Laugh Track.

As part of the introductory patter to The Tonight Show, McMahon would state his name out loud, pronouncing it as Ed "Mc MAH yon", such as the first two syllables of "Mayonnaise" (see above "MacMahonaise" story), but neither his long-time cohort Johnny Carson nor seemingly anyone else who interviewed him ever seemed to pick up on that subtlety, usually referring to him as Ed "Mc MAN".

The extroverted McMahon served as a counter to the notoriously shy Carson. Nonetheless, McMahon once told an interviewer that after his many decades as an emcee, he would still get "butterflies" in his stomach every time he would walk onto a stage, and would use that nervousness as a source of energy.

Comedian Garry Shandling has stated in interviews that the relationship between fictional talk show host Larry Sanders and his side-kick Hank Kingsley in the hit sitcom The Larry Sanders Show is largely based on that between McMahon and Carson.

Musical comedy icon "Weird Al" Yankovic wrote a parody of El Debarge's hit "Who's Johnny" entitled "Here's Johnny" about Ed McMahon and his signature catchphrase. It appeared on his 1987 album Polka Party!

In the 1990s, McMahon was reputed to be worth in excess of US$200 million in real estate holdings (particularly in Malibu) and real estate partnerships, although his net worth declined somewhat, due to several divorce settlements and a nationwide drop in real estate.

From 1997 to 1998, he appeared in the situation comedy, The Tom Show, starring Tom Arnold.

In April 2002, McMahon sued his insurance company, insurance adjusters, and several environmental cleanup contractors over breach of contract related to negligence in cleaning up water damage after a broken water pipe was repaired in his Beverly Hills, California house. The lawsuit alleged that moisture from the pipe break caused toxic mold to spread, sickened his wife, Pamela, and members of the household staff, killed the family dog, Muffin, and ruined his priceless memorabilia collection. The case was reported to have been settled out of court for US$7.2 million.

In March 2008, it was announced McMahon was recovering from a broken neck and two subsequent surgeries. He was injured in 2007 in a fall.

In June 2008, it was announced that McMahon is $644,000 behind on payments on $4.8 million in mortgage loans and is fighting to avoid foreclosure on his multimillion-dollar Beverly Hills home.

He was also offered the job as host of the successful weekly syndicated series Star Search, which began in 1983 and helped launch the careers of numerous actors, singers, choreographers and comedians. McMahon's knack at contestants gained him much respect of the audience who can sing and dance. He stayed with the show until it ended in 1995, and in 2003, he made a cameo appearance on the revival of the CBS show, hosted by Arsenio Hall, who was his successor.

McMahon and Dick Clark hosted the TV series (later special broadcast) TV Bloopers And Practical Jokes on NBC from 1982 until 1998, when Clark decided to move the production of the series to ABC.

In 2004, he became the announcer and co-host of Alf's Hit Talk Show on TV Land.

He's authored two memoirs, Here's Johnny!: My Memories of Johnny Carson, The Tonight Show, and 46 Years of Friendship as well as For Laughing Out Loud.

Ahh, but... (5, Insightful)

Doug Neal (195160) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666295)

Can it sniff out nearby objects/people, ingest them, shred/melt them down to create new raw materials for buildling copies of itself? Thought not. We're safe... for now...

One of best marketing statements ever: (4, Funny)

tyler.willard (944724) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666327)

'Recently, Chris DiBona, Open Source Programs Manage at Google Inc, encouraged people to: "Think of RepRap as a China on your desktop."'

How did they make the first one? (2, Funny)

stoofa (524247) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666329)

I am assuming that they used another method to make the very first one or else philosophers are going to rake it in for years over where the first one came from.

Re:How did they make the first one? (2, Funny)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666419)

It all started when some guy rubbed some sticks together or carried away some of the remains of a lightning fire. Later, someone found some metal. Much later, organic chemistry was born.

Re:How did they make the first one? (1)

stoofa (524247) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666611)

Was that whole stick thing on Slashdot? Because otherwise I would have missed it.

Oh, I expect it was on Fox News right?

Re:How did they make the first one? (2, Funny)

Welshalian (733176) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666853)

I am assuming that they used another method to make the very first one or else philosophers are going to rake it in for years over where the first one came from.
You're very clever, young man, very clever, but it's self-replicating machines all the way down!

Re:How did they make the first one? (1)

slim (1652) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666961)

The first RepRap was built from a RepStrap.

It's a bit like bootstrapping a compiler.

Total redundancy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23666333)

"Automated machines have been around for decades."
Na, really? I thought that they just came out yesterday!

Let the Clone Wars Begin (5, Funny)

totallydude (1115447) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666365)

Lord Vader our troops are almost ready but I gotta run to staples to get some more of that plastic injection stuff for the printer.

Nope, don't think so... (1)

MadMorf (118601) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666407)

It works on coat hooks, door handles and now it can even make working copies ... of itself.

I didn't even have to read TFA to know this ain't true...

Unless the machine can also make it's own electrical components...Gears and even parts of pumps I can believe, but without some way to move those electrons around, it ain't happenin'.

you silly robotic overlords (3, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666411)

you haven't thought your cunning plan all the way through

you forgot the part about who plugs you into the wall

who's in control now biatches!

Printcrime by Cory Doctorow (4, Insightful)

skware (78429) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666413)

Printcrime

Copy this story.

(originally published in Nature Magazine, January 2006)

Cory Doctorow

The coppers smashed my father's printer when I was eight. I remember the hot, cling-film-in-a-microwave smell of it, and Da's look of ferocious concentration as he filled it with fresh goop, and the warm, fresh-baked feel of the objects that came out of it.

The coppers came through the door with truncheons swinging, one of them reciting the terms of the warrant through a bullhorn. One of Da's customers had shopped him. The ipolice paid in high-grade pharmaceuticals -- performance enhancers, memory supplements, metabolic boosters. The kind of things that cost a fortune over the counter; the kind of things you could print at home, if you didn't mind the risk of having your kitchen filled with a sudden crush of big, beefy bodies, hard truncheons whistling through the air, smashing anyone and anything that got in the way.

They destroyed grandma's trunk, the one she'd brought from the old country. They smashed our little refrigerator and the purifier unit over the window. My tweetybird escaped death by hiding in a corner of his cage as a big, booted foot crushed most of it into a sad tangle of printer-wire.

Da. What they did to him. When he was done, he looked like he'd been brawling with an entire rugby side. They brought him out the door and let the newsies get a good look at him as they tossed him in the car. All the while a spokesman told the world that my Da's organized-crime bootlegging operation had been responsible for at least 20 million in contraband, and that my Da, the desperate villain, had resisted arrest.

I saw it all from my phone, in the remains of the sitting room, watching it on the screen and wondering how, just how anyone could look at our little flat and our terrible, manky estate and mistake it for the home of an organized crime kingpin. They took the printer away, of course, and displayed it like a trophy for the newsies. Its little shrine in the kitchenette seemed horribly empty. When I roused myself and picked up the flat and rescued my poor peeping tweetybird, I put a blender there. It was made out of printed parts, so it would only last a month before I'd need to print new bearings and other moving parts. Back then, I could take apart and reassemble anything that could be printed.

By the time I turned 18, they were ready to let Da out of prison. I'd visited him three times -- on my tenth birthday, on his fiftieth, and when Ma died. It had been two years since I'd last seen him and he was in bad shape. A prison fight had left him with a limp, and he looked over his shoulder so often it was like he had a tic. I was embarrassed when the minicab dropped us off in front of the estate, and tried to keep my distance from this ruined, limping skeleton as we went inside and up the stairs.

"Lanie," he said, as he sat me down. "You're a smart girl, I know that. You wouldn't know where your old Da could get a printer and some goop?"

I squeezed my hands into fists so tight my fingernails cut into my palms. I closed my eyes. "You've been in prison for ten years, Da. Ten. Years. You're going to risk another ten years to print out more blenders and pharma, more laptops and designer hats?"

He grinned. "I'm not stupid, Lanie. I've learned my lesson. There's no hat or laptop that's worth going to jail for. I'm not going to print none of that rubbish, never again." He had a cup of tea, and he drank it now like it was whisky, a sip and then a long, satisfied exhalation. He closed his eyes and leaned back in his chair.

"Come here, Lanie, let me whisper in your ear. Let me tell you the thing that I decided while I spent ten years in lockup. Come here and listen to your stupid Da."

I felt a guilty pang about ticking him off. He was off his rocker, that much was clear. God knew what he went through in prison. "What, Da?" I said, leaning in close.

"Lanie, I'm going to print more printers. Lots more printers. One for everyone. That's worth going to jail for. That's worth anything."

Cory Doctorow has spent the past four years at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (www.eff.org), fighting at the United Nations and in tech-standards bodies to balance the rights of copyright and patent holders with the public interest. His novels can be had free online at www.craphound.com.

Doom! Doom! Doom! (5, Funny)

Detritus (11846) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666429)

Now all it needs is an attachment that converts organic matter into chemical feed stock and some wheels.

"Knock, knock"
"Who's there?"
"Candygram"
"You're not a self-replicating cybernetic organism?"
"No, ma'am"

No it doesn't (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666453)

It makes copies of the parts needed to make a copy of itself. That's like saying a screw-making machine is making copies of itself because it also contains screws. If it "made a copy of itself", then out of the output area would appear a machine similarly capable of producing a copy of itself. Those are two totally different things!

This is OLD technology... (1)

jxm387 (936239) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666529)

Ok, so maybe they've got a novel way to promote themselves: "our machine can even copy ITSELF!" But this technology has been around for ages. In the late 90's I was personally watching a low tech version layer adhesive paper and cut it out with a laser. The technology has since evolved into photosensitive polymers that crosslink in layers to allow more complex parts that can take a beating. In fact, I was working on projects with the polymer manufacturers to improve interlayer adhesion. This stuff is new? No way.

Antrax (1)

ShannaraFan (533326) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666545)

I see where this is going... I just finished (re)reading Antrax (one of Terry Brooks' Shannara series). We're all screwed when this printer gizmo becomes self-aware!

Star Trek Replicator (3, Interesting)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666561)

The self-printing machine is another step to Star Trek's "matter replicator". Society will have some sweeping changes when physical property is as easy and cheap (or beer-free) as intellectual "property" (imaginary property) is to replicate.

Someone in an RIAA/MPAA thread said that since physical property was getting cheaper and cheaper to manufacture and took less and less people to make that we need to stake our future to IP. I say this is hogwash - I may be creative, but most people aren't.The record labels are already quaint anachronisms, and the movie studios will soon follow as the cost and necessary technical expertise drop. It no longer takes lots of gruntwork to make an album; the band and a guy running the studio is all you need now. What will those who have no creativity do for a living?

Heaven on earth is on its way and technology is bringing it here. And the greedy rich are fighting its arrival tooth and nail. Their sense of entitlement and feelings that they are better than the rest of us is sickening.

Re:Star Trek Replicator (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666773)

The self-printing machine is another step to Star Trek's "matter replicator". Society will have some sweeping changes when physical property is as easy and cheap (or beer-free) as intellectual "property" (imaginary property) is to replicate.
Sure, if you like to to eat plastic...

Re:Star Trek Replicator (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23666905)

The day that scientists will have girls (wait, there's more..) with bigger boobs is close!

Re:Star Trek Replicator (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23666959)

Could this be a collary of Goodwin's law [wikipedia.org] ? Talking about the RIAA/MPAA in a topic that has nothing to do with the RIAA/MPAA?

Re:Star Trek Replicator (1)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667017)

Someone in an RIAA/MPAA thread said that since physical property was getting cheaper and cheaper to manufacture and took less and less people to make that we need to stake our future to IP. I say this is hogwash
I'd say it's worse than hogwash.

The argument is basically "physical property is getting cheaper and cheaper to manufacture, making it a difficult field to compete in... so let's compete in a field where the manufacturing/duplication is even cheaper (almost zero, actually).

It will be quite interesting to see how economy and law change as manufacturing prices drop further, or if "object printers" become commonplace. The same silly arguments that are currently used to restrict duplication of information will surely be used by the entrenched players to justify monopolies on objects, and laws against object printers.

I think we are indeed driving towards a world where manufacturing and duplication (of objects or information) will not be the limited step: it will be design and creativity that will be limiting. I'm not at all convinced that our current models for "creativity-rewarding" (namely copyright and patents) are up to the task of maintaining the economy when that day comes.

Re:Star Trek Replicator (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667031)

the movie studios will soon follow as the cost and necessary technical expertise drop.
Really now? That's funny, because, while indie music is viable nowadays, every indie movie I've ever seen looked like shit. We're a long way off from having Hollywood die, if it ever happens.

model for evolution? (1)

Fluorophore (675422) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666697)

Just a thought. Could be used as a model system for evolution research. I just saw Susan Blackmore's TED talk [ted.com] - she summarizes Darwin's Origin of the Species as: If you have - variation - selection - heredity Then you *must* have - evolution It would be interesting to speculate how those three factors could be introduced.

Anyone want to print me off a set of parts? (1)

RandoX (828285) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666701)

Looks like a fun toy, what does it actually cost to make anything with it though? Would it be cheaper to buy a coat hook from Wal-Mart or to print my own?

self-replication, ha? (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666755)

So a MACHINE can self replicate now! This is an achievement of a sort that most /.ters can't boast about ;) It's not fair. There must be a limitation built into this machine that would force it to seek out another machine like itself, only a different color and use half of that machine's blue-print to replicate. Then the other machine must be programmed to refuse most of such attempts without giving a logical reason for it (what's logical about not wanting to replicate as much as possible if you are a replicating machine? ;)

Then the first machine would have to learn all kinds of tricks to fool the second machine into believing that the second machine actually WANTS to replicate with the first one. Then Sex in the Factory show will make it big.

Re:self-replication, ha? (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666777)

then the robot porn will hit it off... show me that circuit, SHOW ME THAT CIRCUIT!

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm... bad printer ;)

And here's the news from 2009... (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666801)

The Replicator Industry Association of America cautions that all replicators are required, prior to creating the first device, to first replicate a EULA. By buying a replicator you are deemed to have agreed in advance to this EULA.

The EULA, rather like the United States Constitution, is a "living document" constructed of active replicator parts. It periodically downloads updates and constantly improves itself to keep up with modern jet-age progress, and the latest court decisions.

The RIAA suggests you keep the EULA posted in a conspicuous place where you can refer to it periodically to check for updates in the terms and conditions of use.

The EULA provides that you cannot use the Replicator to replicate itself, nor to replicate any patented or trademarked device.

To spare you the inconvenience of checking the patent database yourself, the EULA uses BlueTooth to communicate with the replicator and Wi-Fi to search the patent, trademark, and copyright databases. To increase customer satisfaction and continuously improve the product, it also keeps the RIAA updated on what all replicator users are doing with their replicators, so that the RIAA can better serve you.

And we do mean "serve."

Didn't they use this... (1)

Chysn (898420) | more than 5 years ago | (#23666929)

...to make a velociraptor skull? Oh yeah, that was Jurassic Park 3. In 2001.

Singularity? (3, Funny)

tobiasly (524456) | more than 5 years ago | (#23667003)

Hmm, I thought the singularity would be more impressive than this. I bet Singularity 2.0 will be awesome.
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