Anyone with access to a welder and the Internet soon could make his or her own replacement parts or tools with a new 3D metal printer that can be built in any garage.
Until recently, most of the 3D printing hype has swirled around plastic 3D printers, which have been used to make everything from clothing to art. And while 3D metal printers do exist, their price tag starts at a half million dollars.
Now, scientists have built an open-source 3D metal printer that costs under $1,200, sharing their design and software with the maker community.
"We have open-sourced the plans," in the hopes of accelerating the technology by allowing others to build upon the design, said project leader Joshua Pearce, a materials engineer at Michigan Technological University in Houghton.
The snazzy device is modeled after a RepRap (short for “replicating rapid prototype”), a 3D printer that can print most of its own components. The printer uses a metal inert gas (MIG) welder to lay down thin layers of steel, much like plastic printers do, and build complex geometric objects.
GravityLight - Light For Developing Countries
Brain child of two designers from the UK, this innovative light source aims to bring free easy to use light sources to developing countries. Approximately 1.5 billion people are without access to mains electricity and as such they will rely on biomass fuels such as hydrocarbons to light their homes after dark and as we know all too well: hydrocarbons environmentally damaging and not infinite in their supply. The designers sought to avoid these problems by finding a new way to power lights and they came up with an ingenious solution: gravity. The light can be suspending from most anything you can tie a rope to and in order to turn it you all that is required is for you to lift up a bag of dirt or stones. The bag hangs on a cord which is pulled through a weight drive similar to a cuckoo clock as gravity works its magic on the sack. Their current design can provide light for up to 30 minutes from just the three seconds required to lift the bag of dirt.
It is hoped once their campaign takes off they will be able to mass produce the lights for a cost of $5 per unit which is a tiny one off amount compared to the high ongoing cost that is required for biomass fuel lamps.. These lights also hold an advantage over solar lights in that they do not require any expensive, limited use batteries and can be used in period of overcast weather or at night for long periods of time.
This week-end, visitors of the London Science Museum can trek through the un-natural habitats of robots inspired by nature, interacting with creatures that swim, flap, and crawl, in a unique safari experience. “Visitors to this exhibition called Robot SafariEU will see not just how nature can inspire innovative robotic designs, but also how these biomimetic robots are actually advancing our understanding of the animals and plants they mimic,” explains Nicola Burghall, Content Developer for Robot SafariEU. “We’re very excited to be able to showcase some of the latest European biomimetic robotics research here at the Science Museum.” EPFL roboticists at the Biorob laboratory designed some of the models presented at the Safari, namely the Cheetah-cub and a family of salamanders. These electronic creatures are used to study the nervous system, and in the long-run, to help develop therapies for spinal cord injuries and better prostheses for amputees. (via EPFL in the Depths of London’s Robot Jungle)