Bowyer adds that the Fab@Home machine could probably already be used to make many cheap injection-moulded products already on the market: "I can imagine people swapping plans of things to make online, or paying to download them instead of going to the shop."RepRap.org is working towards a Fab that can print itself:
The RepRap build cost will be less than $400 US for the bought-in materials, all of which have been selected to be as widely available everywhere in the world as possible. Also, the RepRap software will work on all computer platforms for free. Complete open-source instructions and plans are published on this website for zero cost and available to everyone so, if you want to make one yourself, you can.
We hope to announce self-replication in 2008.
To put it succinctly, this is one of the coolest generations to have been born into. Not only is information being made freely available in most cases, but the information online is going to drive the continued development of the physical world within less than one generation.
Injection molded plastics will be replaced by 'printed' materials. When we shop online for something in the near future, we will be able to print out a mini version to see what it actually looks like, then purchase it, and print out the real thing. No going to the store. Of course there will be specialty items that cannot be printed, requiring special materials, but the vast majority of our consumables--food might be a notable exception, but it doesn't have to be--will be printed out of a machine in our homes, after being downloaded off the internet.
This is actually a technology that will help everyone, not just the wealthy countries. RepRap's goal is to make the printers able to print themselves. The network effect of such a point is that they could be printed and distributed exponentially. The raw printer 'ink' will still cost money, but all the time we will be finding cheaper supplements.
Who knows exactly when such a thing will take off? But it will be sooner than we think. I've been dying for technology like this my whole life.. I can hardly wait to get into it. Now I'm just starting to understand why I was born now, in this generation and not another one. I thought I was out of place because of the digital music revolution, I care more about kinesthetics, objects in motion, about creating something by thinking about it, with as few steps in between as possible.
Of course with this great potential, spider man knows, comes great responsibility. When mankind's world is as malleable as his imagination will allow it to be. It is at once easier and more challenging to relate to God. ויאמר אלוקים יהי אור, ויהי אור . God spoke, and the world came into being. His kind of creation (yesh m'ayin - ex nihilo) is not our creation (yesh m'yesh - changing forms) but there is something inexorably compelling about speaking and creating.
Everywhere we go in the world, we are encountering letters, souls, sparks, we can raise them to the heavens or (heaven forebid) grind them further into the grit. We can take all of this and shape it to our will. But our will still needs to be shaped first.