Researchers at Germany’s Doppelbock University just opened the door to the future of rapid prototyping technology by developing the world’s first 3D-printed 3D printer! Dubbed the Ecophage, the duplicitous device is capable of using readily available materials to create copies of itself – albeit at a slightly smaller scale. Best of all, it’s outfitted with a built-in material re-processor that can convert virtually any carbon-based substance into filament for 3d-printing.

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Dr Drexler von Neumann led the Doppelbock University team in creating the self-replicating device, which is poised to change the world as we know it. So far the 3D printer has constructed 12 successive generations of itself, all of which are steadily self-replicating at an exponential rate. Within a few hours of creating the first machine, the team’s laboratory was cluttered with an ever-expanding swarm of smaller and smaller 3d printers.

The Ecophage is powered by chemical energy harvested from organic materials. The device’s material re-processor consumes plastic, wood, and other organic materials and breaks them down into molecular filaments that can be used to create new machines. A randomized algorithm ensures that successive generations of the devices are able to change and adapt to suit their environment – the latest versions of the Ecophage have developed chitinous legs able to outrun all but the swiftest of flyswatters.

So far the project has been a runaway success – when questioned about the Ecophage, Dr. von Neumann said “I only wish I designed it with an off switch.”

+ Ecophage

Editor’s note: The 3D printer model featured is made by Mojo 3D Printers – check them out!