Replicators in the making

James Randerson

LONDON: It has been called the invention that will bring down global capitalism, start a second industrial revolution and save the environment and it might just put Santa out of a job too.

The "self-replicating rapid prototyper," or RepRap for short, is a machine that literally prints three-dimensional objects from a digital design. Its creators hope that in the future it will be a must-have mod con for every home.

The Santa machine works like a printer, except that rather than squeezing ink out of a moving nozzle it squirts molten plastic in layers. These build up to make 3D shapes. To date the machine has made a belt buckle, a scale architectural model and even one of its own components. It has been claimed that soon the machine would be able to make items using other materials.

Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006

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