SMRRF will be held at the picturesque University of Oxford Examination Schools, the festival is being billed as a “spectacular celebration of community level open source projects”. The event is open to everyone, from those new to 3D printing to seasoned RepRap event attendees.
The festival is named after Sanjay Mortimer, co-founder of 3D printer components OEM E3D and 3D printing visionary in his own right, who sadly passed away in 2021. Sanjay was posthumously awarded the Outstanding Contribution to 3D Printing in our 2022 3D Printing Industry Awards. Sanjay’s legacy continues to live on through the Sanjay Mortimer Foundation (SMF). Adult tickets are available from £10, and all proceeds will go to the SMF.
The Sanjay Mortimer Foundation, and this year’s event
The SMF outlines its mission as seeking “to help those with neurodiverse minds recognise their strengths and talents through engineering and making”. Those with neurodivergent minds are often creative and possess strong analytical and problem-solving skills, yet remain significantly underrepresented in engineering. To combat this, the foundation seeks to build self-esteem and nurture further interest in engineering, by providing support in the form of funding, resources and training. Thus, it is hoped that these individuals will go on to pursue engineering careers and positively impact the 3D printing sector.
This year’s SMRRF offers a series of keynote talks from leading industry experts, including RepRap project founder Adrian Bower, and the opportunity to participate in Sam Prentice’s RC robot wars.
Sponsors already signed up to SMRRF 2023 include E3D, Prusa Research, Voron, Duet3D, Cocoa Press, BigTreeTech, Project R3D, and Zaribo. Sponsorship opportunities are still available, with options ranging from Platinum to display only. If you are interested in securing a table at the event, you can find out more here.
Nearly two decades of RepRap 3D printing
RepRap, short for Replicating Rapid-protoyper, originated as a self-replicating FFF 3D printer, able to print the plastic parts needed to construct another RepRap machine. RepRap was founded by Adrien Bowyer at Bath University, with the idea first appearing online in February 2004. According to the RepRap website, on the 29th of May 2008 Vik Olliver, Ed Sells and Adrian Bowyer assembled the first child RepRap from a parent which was made by a proprietary 3D printer.
Open-source has been critical for RepRap, with the 3D printer designs available under an open-source license (the GNU General Public License). During a 2018 interview with 3D Printing Industry, Bowyer explained that “my first reason for that was that I thought a general-purpose self-replicating manufacturing machine was a potential industrial distributor, and that – in order to prevent its leading to an increase in wealth inequality – I ought to give it to everyone”.
In his initial vision, Bowyer intended for the number of RepRap machines to grow exponentially, with each user self-replicating their machine which would then be passed on for the process to continue. The self-replicating dimension of the RepRap project did not play out in the exact way expected, “only a small percentage of people used them to make more 3D printers” Chris Palmer told 3D Printing Industry. Early RepRap community members made use of the collective knowledge spread over forums and message boards to successfully iterate designs. Several community members would go on to found 3D printer companies that retained the open-source ethos, to varying degrees. For example, Prusa Research, MakerBot and E3D, whose founders all built upon initial experiences with RepRap to pursue commercial 3D printing ventures.
Desktop FFF 3D printers taking RepRap as a starting point, while not retaining a GPL open-source approach, have spread far and wide. Arguably, this would not have happened without the RepRap project. 3D Printing Industry conducted a brief health-check on the state of RepRap after last year’s ERRF. Speaking to 3D Printing Industry, Grant Posner of 3D Musketeers, said, “many companies [are] blatantly ignoring GPL, stomping on open source, and just using it, not ever providing anything back does pain me because that means the original ideologies of it are being lost.” However, both RepRap events and the Maker community are still an important part of the 3D printing world. The founder of Cocoa Press, Ellie Weinstein, said of ERRF 2022, “the collaboration in both the hobbyist and commercial spaces was evident and is the same spirit that started the RepRap movement in the first place.”
Upcoming 3D printing events
Outside of the UK, the annual RAPID + TCT event is taking place in Chicago between the 2nd and 4th of May this year. This event is set to showcase a number of exciting AM applications, including The Drone Bird Company’s Falcon shaped Drone Bird, which leverages AM technology from EOS, Advanced Laser Materials, and Parts on Demand.
Finally, the biggest 3D printing event of the year, Formnext 2023, takes place from the 7th to 10th of November in Frankfurt. This year’s Formnext is set to include over 800 exhibitions, with more than 30,000 visitors expected to attend the four-day event.
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Featured image shows the 2023 Sanjay Mortimer RepRap Festival poster. Photo via The Sanjay Mortimer Foundation.