It's Your Factory It's Your Factory
Issue 013

It's Your Factory

by Katherine Sharpe

November 27, 2008
Adrian Bowyer thinks that Marx got it only half right: The means of production shouldn't just be seized, they should be shared by all. To that end, Bowyer, a mechanical engineer from the University of Bath, in England, has realized one of technology's holy grails-a machine that can replicate itself.In 2005, he began work on RepRap, a device that extrudes layers of plastic to create physical objects from digital designs. In addition to forging a seemingly infinite number of useful items, RepRap can make almost all of the parts for a working "child" version of itself, a feat first accomplished this May. With RepRap, the thinking goes, you can print yourself a pair of shoes of your own design, and then you can print your friend a RepRap of her own, generating wealth almost from thin air (the plastic it extrudes costs about $10 a pound). "My ambition is to allow people to have the freedom to make anything they want for themselves," without corporate industry intervening, says Bowyer. "Why shouldn't people run their own factory?"
Learn More reprap.orgBaby Reprap needs a circuit board and metal rods to be fully functional. Total cost:$500.
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It's Your Factory