Three-dimensional fabrication tools, or "fabbers," have been common in industry for years. They can be used to make rapid models of car parts, gears, or other bits of industrial machinery in a matter of minutes. Most rely on a slow process of deposition in which various kinds of plastic are built up in layers to form the desired shape. Unfortunately for those who want to put this incredible technology to use in the home, the machines run $20,000 and up. Way up. Many of the machines cost well above $100,000.
Malone, a graduate student in mechanical engineering at Cornell University goal was to build something cheap and reliable, something that hobbyists could use to kickstart a "home fabbing revolution" that would have analogues to the personal computer revolution that hobbyists helped to launch in the early 1970s. The result was [email protected], an open-source project that provides drivers, applications software, and detailed design plans for assembling a three-dimensional desktop fabricator. Total cost: under $2,400.