We need one of these for when we finally get that Autoblog project car. It's called Fab@Home, and it's an open-source, desktop size fabrication rig; essentially a 3-dimesional printer. What the system allows you to do is fabricate complex parts with a simple, low cost rig. All you need are the materials and the geometric information, and you're on your way to making that fancy AutoBlog belt buckle.

The practice of building up a part drip-by-drip is known in the industry as rapid prototyping. It allows one group of people to essentially send a part as an email. You could be working on a doorhandle in Detroit and email it to your OEM in China, where they "print" the design and evaluate it. Pretty slick. The Fab@Home project is an undertaking of Cornell University, with the goal of democratizing innovation. Just as the desktop computer revolution was driven by innovation from all quarters, the Fab@Home system is a low-cost system that should be easily customized as it gets used for different materials and functions. We'd love to see it retrofitted with a milling head. Imagine CNC machining your own combustion chambers in your garage, driven by your laptop. Sounds like that'd finally be a real use for that Dremel...

[Source: Fab@Home.org via autoexpress]