3D printer to be able to duplicate itself

Xavi Drudis Ferran xdrudis at tinet.cat
Wed Apr 16 06:52:23 UTC 2008

On Thu, Apr 10, 2008 at 10:33:55AM +0100, David Gerard wrote:
> http://computerworld.co.nz/news.nsf/tech/2F5C3C5D68A380EDCC257423006E71CD
> A 3D duplicator called RepRap, released under GPL, aiming to make a
> version that can replicate itself.
> This will be the point at which hardware patents become as damaging to
> innovation as software patents are.

Not necessarily. Self replication is an important feature, but the 
economics of matter and information are still very much different. 

A 3D printer consumes resources and generates waste in a way different
from a program. You can modify a program because there is no cost in
making a modified copy or erasing the old version (other than a little
energy and human effort). You can't change the 3D objects you already
printed (I think). You don't have an infinite supply of printing
matter or an infinite capacity for producing waste. But you do have an
infinite supply of bits you can freely modify and discard. That and more physical
constraints affect the way 3D printers can scale compared with

If the inherent properties are different, the philosophical consequences
may be different. In particular the usefulness of patents. I don't see 
why you would have less research and development costs in hardware because
of 3d printers (but maybe you would). On the other hand you could come
to the conclusion that the whole patent system is disfunctional in an 
information society, because the cost of keeping it working well outset
the benefits once the information society reduces the costs of learning, 
collaboration, sharing, etc., also for technical knowledge, and if that
would be true it wouldn't probably depend on self replicating 3d printers.  

It may be more interesting to think about free hardware designs than 
free hardware itself, even with a self replicating 3d printe5Br. 

But of course there's food for thought with such a development.
Starting by understanding the development itself.

xdrudis at tinet.cat
Signa per fer Collserola parc natural com cal

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