The RepRap project started as a British initiative to develop a 3D printer that can print most of its own components, but it is now made up of hundreds of collaborators world wide. RepRap (short for replicating rapid prototyper) uses an additive manufacturing technique called fused filament fabrication (FFF) to lay down material in layers; a plastic filament or metal wire is unwound from a coil and supplies material to produce a part. The project calls it Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) to avoid trademark issues with the "fused deposition modeling" term.
As an open design, all of the designs produced by the project are released under a free software license, the GNU General Public License.
Due to the self-replicating ability of the machine, authors envision the possibility to cheaply distribute RepRap units to people and communities, enabling them to create (or download from the Internet) complex products without the need for expensive industrial infrastructure (distributed manufacturing) including scientific equipment. They intend for the RepRap to demonstrate evolution in this process as well as for it to increase in number exponentially. A preliminary study has already shown that using RepRaps to print common products results in economic savings, which justifies the investment in a RepRap
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