Gray goo is totally on the way, guys — the boffins at the University of Bath have developed a 3D printer that can create copies of itself. Soon, your collection of hand-painted Warhammer 40K figurines will be worthless, drowned in a sea of cheaply auto-molded replicas!
Anyway — the realm of 3D printing has been exploding in popularity lately, with the growth of Thingiverse, which is exactly what it sounds like: a gathering place for people to upload 3D printer files used to make…things.
To be fair, the University of Bath’s project can only print out most of its parts; the rest mainly have to be bought at a common hardware store. But it isn’t the only one striving for the Neumannian dream of a self-replicating manufacturing device. The Clanking Replicator Project is also in the game, and Thingiverse’s designs allow a Makerbot to make many of its component parts. Soon, simple plastic goods will be free! Ikea and Lego products will be effectively open-source!
(But the world might also be reduced to its component molecules by a flood of auto-generating machines. There’s also that.)
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