RepRap. The End of Walmart.

If you can proint 3D objects at home, that may be the end of Walmart. Yes – RepRap – the DIY open source 3D printer – is a major political statement.

You can actually use RepRap to recycle – by reusing plastics as feedstocks for RepRap.

My encounter with RepRap, in the aftermath of the Oekonux trip – was transformative. This space age stuff is real – and it works – today. You can use RepRap to print a copy of all the non-metal components to make another RepRap. For a total of $400 in materials, you’ve got yourself another RepRap. At 0.1 millimeter positioning accuracy, RepRap is not just a toy.

Listen to my interview with Chris Palmer – one of the RepRap developers – who is known more for his well-documented HydraRaptor project – which is a more advanced version of RepRap.

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For Factor e Farm, RepRap will have a number of applications.One great example – which involves mixing technology and ecology – is that we’ll be able to print our own grafting tool for propagating fruit trees. The complex geometry of the grafting tool makes it a perfect candidate for printing with a computer-controlled 3D printer. Another great application will be printing our own plumbing/air/industrial fittings of all sorts. If you have experience with fittings, you know the difficulties involved with working with hundreds of types of fittings of different standards – there are interconnectivity issues. If we print our own, we can eliminate these issues by design. In particular – we will be able to make our own self-tapping (blind) fittings and quick disconnect fittings – priceless items if you’re focused on modular design.

Just the other day I had to go to the store to get a 2 inch PVC cap for our rainwater collection system. I wouldn’t have to make this trip if I had RepRap. Our plan is for Edward Miller, one of our True Fans, to visit for the summer and leave us with a working copy fo RepRap. Chris Palmer will print a copy of the parts. We will end up developing an open business model where people can produce RepRaps for others and we’ll create a weekend workshop where you build your own RepRap.

Here are some more questions answered by Chris on RepRap and HydraRaptor – namely – accuracy, the extruder head, and the different tool heads that will be used with both devices.

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On a different topic, we have 38 True Fans right now. Please consider subscribing to support this important work. We’ve seen the limits of the True Fans campaign – and we know that we’ll get a major spike of interest once CEB Prototype 2 is done in the next few weeks. We’re shaking down final design issues. Join our CEB development forum. We’re also formulating the OSE Prospectus for investors interested in helping to bring any of our products to market. The basic program is that we can collaborate with each other – as opposed to competing with each other – so that products are developed and anyone can produce/market them according to an open business model. Sam Rose is developing a systematic way to document those business models. Inquire further by emailing us at opensourceecology at gmail dot com if you’d like to invest. There are opportunities whereby, if you invest in development, we’re willing to share the value generated – on a case-by-case basis according to who we’re working with. Yes, this is a chance to move beyond Walmart into local production.

Walmart may be around for some time to come – but personally – I’d like to see an increase in local production. This is – simply – because it’s possible.


  1. Dan

    Linux wasn’t the end of Windows, and fabs won’t be the end of WalMart.

  2. Edward

    The main point is to free people from dependency upon these corporate structures, and provide a viable alternative.

    The evils of inequality are significantly eliminated if the tools for acquiring basic necessities are freely available.

    In the long run, I have a feeling that open source models may well win out simply because of their low cost, their reproductive fitness, and the fact that their development isn’t reliant upon any single corporate sponsor.

    Yet, even if it never becomes the dominant mode of production, the significance of it is not much diminished.

    This stuff has exponentially more potential to end extreme poverty than all the foreign aid and Bono concerts combined.

  3. […] this Open Source Ecology article for details and an interesting […]

  4. Lost Chief

    Here is a link to a podcast about reprap and a few other quality subjects.,com_mojo/Itemid,181/lang,en/

  5. Dan

    Edward, I mostly agree with you.

    The post could have been titled “RepRap. An Alternative to Walmart”, which would have reinforced that message. It wasn’t.

  6. Jeremy

    It will be the “End of Wal-Mart”… at Factor e Farm, and anyone else who can replace all trips to Walmart or any other global supply chain store with a RepRap. Just like linux means the “End of Windows”… at Factor e Farm. :]

  7. Lost Chief

    Ok if you can find a way to use Hemp plastics then we really have something. Im sure you can or will be able to. I could use some nice outdoor speed skates hahahah

  8. […] I’m thinking it may be called MegaRep – the Mega version (8×8 feet) of the cubic RepRap structure – now for handling heavy machining of all […]

  9. MicroTrac Completed | Factor E Farm Blog

    […] We’re thinking it may be called MegaRep – the Mega version (8×8 feet) of the cubic RepRap structure – now for handling heavy machining of all […]

  10. […] Agriculture – printing useful tools such as the grafting tool – which I discussed in a blog post from 2009 when 3D printing was just getting off the […]