What if we reduce the price of this toolset by a factor of 10? While we are at it, why not add about five times the functionality in that price? That is exactly what we plan on doing: RepLab – the open source Fab Lab. Read the wiki entry on this here, and see the other articles on RepLab here.
(Image from new website by Erik de Bruijn – http://www.replab.org/)
Sounds unreal? Yes, prior to the internet age. Now we have open source development – and the price of hardware is dropping drastically. My favorite example is RepRap, the 3D printer – which you can build for $300 in parts – because the plans are available for free. A commercial version would cost you about $20k – or over 60 times more.
So how do we go about achieving this unimaginable feat?
Induction furnace, robotic arm, and heavy duty metal machining.
That’s what you and I will figure out. Let’s back up and start with some facts.
- Cost reduction is feasible via open source development – RepRap has shown a reduction of over 60 times, The Liberator has shown 10, and there are many others
- Self-replication is feasible – RepRap, RepTab , and now RepLab
- There is no limit to what can be open-sourced. Recently, open source desktop fusion was added to the list of open hardware development.
So why bother? Well, this is only for those interested in creating new civilization. The fainthearted do not need to bother – things are just good enough.
However, if you are interested in bringing back production to your country (FABuloUS), creating resilient communities, or simply shifting from a consumer to a producer: the OS Fab Lab is one essential part.
We’ve got some explicit ideas on how this could be done at FeF. But the scope is much greater. Many people want this to happen, so the process needs to be an open one.
We propose in the simplest form – that we all get together to do this. Once done, we can use the self-replicability of the package to replicate the tools for others. First, the plans will be free. Second, we propose an investement structure where those who contribute to the development gain access to the tools created to build additional copies of the tools at ridiculously low cost for themselves. We are offering FeF as one venue where this replication can happen.
So this process is totally up for collaboration. The existing infrastructure is our wiki, and Erik de Bruijn is offering a server to do a dedicated site. You can see the proposed toolset that we would like to see, up for discussion. What would you want to see? What do you have to offer? Let’s talk and make it happen. We need a project management site. We need a development email list. We need publicity. We need marketing materials to spread the message. We need fundraising. We need a process for allocating resources. Who wants to take part? If you take part – you have to be clear about what work you can commit to. We don’t just want to talk about it.