A New Future With 3D Printers

By DAVID SHAMAH, Times of Israel November 06, 2012 Comments

A new industrial revolution is coming — and it will be led by an army of self-replicating machines that will change the landscape of Israel, and the world.

This robot revolution is taking place in the form of self-replicating 3D printers that will, eventually, be found in towns and cities across Israel, “helping to make Israel the leader in the next industrial revolution, which will be epitomized by 3D printing,” according to Gidi Grinstein, director of the Reut Institute. “But it’s about more than 3D printing — it’s about creating a network of open-source spaces where anyone can go and create things, as well as learn the skills to thrive in the new era.”

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It almost sounds like science fiction – but it’s science fact, and it’s happening right now. In a nondescript basement in the center of Tel Aviv, the Reut Institute has set up Israel’s first open-source 3D printer lab, where groups of high school students are already designing and producing a plethora of products, using sophisticated computer programs and strong, durable plastic-like material made from corn starch (called PLA), for use in Reut’s open-source 3D XLN (Cross-Labs Network) workspace, with its self-replicating printers.

Build one printer – and it will build others

“‘3D’ means that you design a three-dimensional object on a computer screen, and the attached printer, using the PLA, produces a copy of the design on the spot. ‘Open-source’ means that the design, computer code, and anything else necessary to build and run the printer are free and available to the public on the Internet. And ‘self-replicating’ means just that,” said Matan Harel, one of the managers of the lab. “We built one printer using instructions on the Internet, and we’ve used that printer to create the components for other printers,” said Harel. Eventually, that “original printer” will have produced clones — and their clones will have produced clones — to populate dozens, if not hundreds, of similar labs the Reut Institute is planning to set up around Israel.

Although you’d expect a project like this to be organized by an institution whose business is hard science, the Reut Institute is actually a policy group concerned with helping to shape the future of Israeli society. Established by Grinstein and others in 2004, Reut has worked closely with every Israeli government, producing studies and position papers on issues from security to the high price of consumer goods to the role of the Diaspora in modern Jewish life. The group also runs numerous programs to encourage women, Arabs, and the disenfranchised to share the bounty of Israeli society, as part of its “Israel 15” vision – referring to efforts to make Israel among the top 15 most prosperous, equitable, and livable societies in the world.

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Via Times of Israel
Photo by Reut Institute

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