The Desktop Manufacturing Revolution

robot-fabrication-stationCHANCES ARE YOU have probably already heard of iRobotics. They’re the company that created the hugely successful autonomous vacuum cleaner robot, Roomba. Now iRobotics are on the verge of releasing an even more revolutionary piece of robotics that they’ve branded the “Robotic Fabricator”.
According to early reports, the Robotic Fabricator will be a fully automatic manufacturing robot that will do 3D printing, CNC milling, multi-component assembly and finishing. In a nutshell, the number of costly steps from desktop computer-aided design (CAD) to manufacture could soon shrink, and the advances in rapid prototyping that we’ve already seen from 3D printing could be in for yet another shot in the arm.
Should the Robotic Fabricator concept prove to be workable, it has the potential to be a game changer. 3D printing was pretty revolutionary in that it could reproduce a product from a 3D computer model (Pirate Bay even set up a download category for 3D printable computer models), but the Robotic Fabricator will be able to produce far more complex objects. Where a good idea once required the inventor to ink a deal with manufacturer, Robotic Fabrication could see true desktop manufacturing finally come of age.
Where Henry Ford used the assembly line to mass manufacture affordable cars, iRobotics invention could see the rise of a whole new class of businesses that are essentially backyard factories cranking out affordable yet niche products. The potential is boggling. Pat Pilcher

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