Adrian Bowyer, a researcher at the University of Bath, UK, is working on a 3D printer that can be used to print out all the parts necessary to make 3D printers.
Bowyer has already produced an electronic circuit by squirting the alloy inside a plastic autonomous robot, which itself was created using a commercial 3D printer. Because the heated syringe he used is very similar to the nozzle that deposits plastic layers in the printer, he envisions squirting both plastic and metal from the same nozzle in future self-replicating machines.
The machine need not be capable of assembling itself, he says, only producing all the necessary parts, with the exception of the microprocessors and the lubricating grease. These could later be added and the various parts clipped together, Bowyer says.People are quite capable of assembling things if they want to,he adds.I am not interested in self-assembly, just self-copying.