Realisation of self-replicating production resources through tight coupling of manufacturing technologies

DS 87-5 Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED 17) Vol 5: Design for X, Design to X, Vancouver, Canada, 21-25.08.2017

Year: 2017
Editor: Anja Maier, Stanko Škec, Harrison Kim, Michael Kokkolaras, Josef Oehmen, Georges Fadel, Filippo Salustri, Mike Van der Loos
Author: Goudswaard, Mark; Hicks, Ben; Nassehi, Aydin; Mathias, David
Series: ICED
Institution: University of Bristol, United Kingdom
Section: Design for X, Design to X
Page(s): 031-040
ISBN: 978-1-904670-93-3
ISSN: 2220-4342


The purpose of this paper is to explore the implications of the tight coupling of manufacturing technologies and the extent to which it can facilitate the realisation of self-replicating production resources. This was explored through a three year programme of development projects where multiple 3D printing and milling machines were designed, built and evaluated with respect to their manufacturing capabilities and self-replicability. It was found that this tight coupling of processes increased functionality, self-replicability and consequentially utility of these machines. The project specifications were used to identify conflicting requirements and qualitatively assess their interrelationships. Further work will see this expanded into a quantitative model to identify where design effort should be focused and also theoretical limits of self-replicability. The principal social implication of this work is that non-autotrophic self-replication, upon which the RepRap philosophy is based, is largely dependent upon locally available technology and resources. Self-replication therefore becomes an affordance of not solely machine but also of environment.

Keywords: 3D printing, Open source design, Case study


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