• Feb 2nd 2007 at 3:28PM
  • 10
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]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      Davey Hiltz
      • 9 Months Ago

      I guess this is the next stop for sheet metal fabrication. It's kind of like 3D printers, they're getting more and more toward home nowadays. I could use this in my shop with some parts though, When does it come out for commercial use?


      • 8 Years Ago
      I remember talking to a family friend (a mathmatician who worked for an IBM "think group")back in 1993, and he was trying to explain this very concept to me. He called it a "3-D" printer that worked with foam gel, and I didn't believe him!
      • 8 Years Ago
      "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."

      It would be even more slick if you didn't do business with communist china. Use the free, independant, and democratic country of Taiwan instead! ( If you absolutely have to go overseas )
      • 8 Years Ago
      I almost got a job with a place in SoCal called Desktop Factory (part of Idealab) that is working towards a similar goal. 3d printing has been around for several years, but the price and the limitations of materials it can produce (brittle or foamy plastics only, but low-strength metals are in the works) have been prohibitive. These companies may soon get the cost low enough for prototyping, and they are even striving for home use! Very exciting stuff.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I have a home-made CNC vertical mill in my garage, along with a CNC plasma cutter. These are actually quite common and some exceed the capacity of commercial machines. http://cnczone.com is a great place to find out about this sort of thing. I use them to machine parts for old cars I restore when the parts are either unavailable or too expensive. #2 is right, 3d printers have been around for a while, and you can even find 3d printers that will print a metal-like substance, but they cost $30k. Z-corp even makes color 3d printers, check out http://www.zcorp.com

      If you want to be astounded, check out http://www.tarus.com/mill.htm and the 'styling' section [autoblog only allows 3 urls] and look at the videos. They make mills large enough to machine a car body out of one piece of material, even aluminum...

      • 8 Years Ago
      I'm a sentimental fool that longs for the old days. Yet at the same time I see stuff like this and it makes you want to live to be 1,000!

      Being a musician, it has been very exciting to experience the explosion of technology in the recording industry. When I went into my first digital studio in 1990, they had two 12 track machines that cost $12,000 a piece. Now you can buy professional device that has 24 tracks and the whole studio in one shot for $2,500.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I would love to have one of these perched next to my inkjet. This is such a very cool emerging technology that has to potential to take over the world the same way the computer has. Wanna give me a demo unit Autoblog?
      • 8 Years Ago
      If you find fab@home impressive you might also want to take at look at the RepRap project out of the University of Bath in the UK...


      Their soon-to-be released machine is also open source, has a proper plastics extruder presently qualified for polycapralactone which can make usuable, hard objects. Whereas the fab@home machine costs $2,400 for parts, the RepRap Darwin is on track to cost no more than $400.

      A spinoff of the RepRap project, Tommelise, is focussed on the American parts environment and uses somewhat different technology and a different control strategy. It's also an open source specification will let anybody with a few hand tools and primitive woodworking skills bootstrap themselves into 3D fabrication for about $150. Tommelise's extruder is qualified for polycapralactone and is presently being qualified as well for both high density polypropylene (HDPE, the stuff your plastic cutting board is made of) and polypropylene (HPP, the stuff your coffee maker and plastic electric kettle is made of). You can keep an eye on the Tommelise project at...


      Have fun!
      • 8 Years Ago
      There are whole worlds of homebrew milling machines out there. The largest emulates industrial CNC. The entry portal for this realm is http://cnczone.com/. There are also machines to be found online which emulate HP plotters. A lot of these are used for making circuit boards. The third group make machines which run Postscipt. They are invariably powered by servo motors, and are called flutterwumpuses.
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