The RepRap revolution started 6 years ago, today.

6 years ago, today is when the first ‘child’ printer was created.

6 years ago, today, the RepRap revolution started.

RepRaps, or Reproducing Rapid Prototypers are 3d printers that are designed in such a way that you can use one to make a copy of itself. The goal is to be able to use ‘stuff’ that is easily available locally. Today, I could make one using parts bought from Radio Shack, Home Depot, Walmart, and junk inkjet printers sitting in people’s closets, and my existing 3d printer. It’s easier and cheaper to order parts of ebay, but I can cobble one together after a couple hour bike ride.

The hardware is open source –  that means I can download, view, edit, and distribute my changes to the machine for free & legally.

The software is open source – that means I can download, view, edit, and distribute my changes to the software for free & legally.

There are thousands of people who are actively making tweaks and adjustments to the printers & software every single day. Thousands of people who are making these 3d printers better, every day, just for the fun of it.

6 years ago today, the first RepRap begat the 2nd RepRap and the world changed forever.

My college, MSOE, had the largest Rapid Prototyping lab in the world at that time if memory serves correctly. They had millions of dollars in equipment. I remember walking past the glassed windowed RPC and looking at the cool stuff they where making there. Engines for GM, hands for NASA to fit gloves, skulls to solve murder mysteries.

2 years ago, I got my first RepRap for as much money as the TV in my living room – I ordered a kit of parts, and built it over the course of 2 days with help from strangers who where also putting their printers together at the same time.

6 years ago today, RepRaps started a revolution that made 3d printers accessible to me, in my home. My children will grow up never not knowing having having easy access to 3d printers. In their home. My dad remembers when he got indoor plumbing growing up, I remember when our house got it’s own phone number and not a shared number with several of the neighbors. My kids will never not remember a 3d printer or two in their house. This blows my mind. The paradigm shift in their thought processes is revolutionary –

I’ve come up with a few ideas of my own – hybrid drivelines, hooking up my printer to my fish tank, and a temp monitoring idea across the printer as a hole.

The people who have made the RepRap revolution possible deserve much gratitude. I’ve been able to meet in person many of the ‘key’ people who have made RepRaps possible – the (re)designers of the hardware, the (re)designers of the firmware, the (re)designers of the electronics.

Today, today is Mr. Bowyer’s day. Thank you. We will probably never meet in person, but you have changed my life & my children’s life. For that, Thank you.