Until now, 3D printing has been a polymer affair, with most people in the maker community using the machines to make all manner of plastic consumer goods, from tent stakes to chess sets. A new low-cost 3D printer developed by Michigan Technological University’s Joshua Pearce and his team could add hammers to that list. The detailed plans, software and firmware are all freely available and open-source, meaning anyone can use them to make their own metal 3D printer.
Joshua Pearce is not one for understatement. “This is the beginning of a true revolution in the sciences,” says the author of “Open-Source Lab.” For cash-strapped researchers, he could be right. His new book, published by Elsevier, is a step-by-step do-it-yourself guide for making lab equipment.
Just as open-source design has driven down the cost of software to the point that it is accessible to anyone with an Internet connection, open-source designs and 3D printing are driving down the cost of making scientific equipment.