One of the things that people like to give as an example of “what you can build with a 3D printer” is a piece of LEGO. Well, who cares? LEGO is an example of exactly what you do not want to print with a 3D printer – they are all standardised, identical pieces, best made with a huge machine that prints quintzillions (that is the largest pseudo number I could think of, since google got stolen from the language of numbers) in the time it takes a RepRap or similar machine to think about warming up. Some people beg to differ. Of course building LEGO fit in pieces, like a special arduino holder or even a mould for making lego iceblocks, is cool, but many things are not really taking advantage of the mixture of mass production, high quality standards and intermingle-ability with one-off custom manufacture.
Which is a big long tangent to say that it is precisely these mixtures that things like the RepRap are making possible: threaded rod, ball bearings and suchlike are perfect mass production items, special angled ABS pieces to join them are perfect one-off things. Lego is a great mass product and with a bit of custom electronics and some commercially available but easily customisable control electronics, something like this is possible:
This is cute, funny, clever and all I would want from something as silly as this. Huzzah!
Here’s to a customisable future….