Wednesday, September 13, 2006


RepRap Makes a Name for Itself

After a late night session and early morning session supporting Metalab and apparently a few of the local breweries, the RepRap has finally made a name for itself:

It looks like we'll have to take greater care not to route the nozzle over gaps in the artifacts so as to avoid all the "hair". But at least we know that the mechanism is actually capable of producing reasonable volumes of output without breaking down, and I can confirm that I can hand-roll 3mm fillament faster than the RepRap can use it!

More from the opening of the Metalab exhibition here:

Vik :v)

All you need now is some little magnets to stick on the back...
Brilliant Vik!

And live at an exhibition, wherein we all know Sod's Law stalks relentlessly between all practical demonstrations with a specially keen attention.
Actualy, I've just realised that there are some little magnets left from the Blinkenlights session last night...

Vik :v)
Looking at those pictures I think you've got a winner there, Vik! Bravo!

I think that RepRap has just lifted off of the runway. :-D

Now, let me see if I can get us a reliable supply of filament today.
Looks like you're having a good time there, they seem to be keeping you busy, and you've done a nice job with the RepRap logo, -and- das Bier finally showed up.

Now I've got to go nail as sign that says Zutritt Verboten on my workshop door. :)
Very cool - and in front of an audience, it's nothing short of astounding!


What kind of reaction did you get from people at the show?
The reaction is astounding. Almost everyone wants to take pictures, and an amazingly high proportion want to walk off with a piece of RepRap output under the impression that it is some kind of art. The "teardrop" logo is particularly popular but I've done a few initials as well for particularly nice people. Here's one of the movies that ended up on Youtube of the 'R' being printed:

The guy who took that one (Magnus) was also interested in the software componet of the RepRap. Not everyone realises the importance of the software side, but most of the tecchies do.

Visitors often ask if it is possible to print the frame and screws etc. I now have the stock answer that the RepRap is a practical device that is intended to work, rather than something that is theoretically "pure". The only purity we insist on is that everything is Open Source.

It has been quite an experience, and I'm greatful to Metalab, Paraflows and Monochrom for making it possible.

Vik :v)
The first generation doesn't have to be pure at all - it just has to work well enough to create a reasonable sized community of reprappers. Once you hit that density of users - the level of innovation will jump and the speed and quality of the machines will go up as the price spirals down. You just need to get over that first hurdle.

It was the same thing with Linux. Linus worked essentially by himself until the kernel got just good enough to run shells and compilers so it could rebuild itself. At that moment a lot of people downloaded it and patches and improvements flooded in. It's just a matter of getting over that initial hump - then progress goes exponential. I sense you guys are close to that tipping point.
Yvan Roy - that door notice. Shouldn't it be Zutritt obligatorisch as we're open source :)
LOL, yes indeed. Although, I shouldn't put that on my workshop door, people could get lost in there! ;)

3D Geek, that's an interesting comparison. I've been wondering if there would be one of those "chasm" effects for the RepRap, where the geeky early adopters love it but it doesn't move into the general population.

I think if there is a chasm, because this project is opensource (Quelloffenheit!) and doesn't consume funds like most patented inventions if could stay parked in the netosphere for as long as it takes. The day it morphes enough to spread beyond the technophiles it can do so.
The difference between Linux and RepRap as regards the chasm between the geek early-adopters and the general public is that in the case of Linux, we are competing against an entrenched opponent with a monopoly stranglehold on the market. That's a tough nut to crack. The general populace don't understand the advantages beyond "It's free" (as in beer) - but even that advantage is erased by the fact that virtually all new PC's come with Windows on them already so people don't see any savings even if they DO switch.

With RepRap it's a bit different. There is no entrenched monopoly - there isn't even an existing source of this kind of technology at anything close to an affordable price (for most people at least) - so there would be no competition at all to start with.

What may be the problem would be to find the 'killer app' for RepRap. What is the thing that people most need to fabricate that this technology is simply great at doing?

I kinda wonder whether the arts & crafts people would find it first - but then, when I think that computer games were the killer app for computers in the home - I wonder whether it'll be something so off-the-wall that the demand doesn't even exist yet.

But that's why we need to get these into the hands of those early-adopters. Those are the ones who (like me) would like one "just because" - and who will discover that killer app that'll get everyone else on board.

But one thing at a time...geeky early adopters first - then teenagers - then everyone else.
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