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June 02, 2005

New Machine Could Make Production a Cottage Industry

Fear of low-grade reproductions grips furniture manufacturers and designers worldwide; so much so that many refuse to sell their products online or to even show them there, with many who do opt for an online presence implementing heavy Flash presentations that don't allow the old cut and paste moves copy-cats use to recreate everything from designer trash cans to bedroom suites. But soon, as the BBC's Ben Andro reports, manufacturers of all sorts may have a new, almost paralyzing fear to deal with. Researchers at the UK's highly respected Bath University have developed a robot that can recreate almost anything from designs downloaded from the Internet. Now, these machines would cost about 25,000 pounds, expensive but maybe worthwhile for someone with disposable income who sees the value in owning a machine like this. But, as is the way with electronic breakthroughs, researchers hope to see the cost fall. They're trying to give these machines the ability to recreate themselves. And, if they achieve this, the machine will be available for what they say is about the cost of a tumble dryer. Their hope is not at all far-fetched. Researchers at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY recently created what they call a "simple robot" that can make copies of itself from spare parts.

Combine this ability with the production possibilities of the UK machine and people will derive a whole new meaning from the phrase "in-house fabrication."

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