The RepRap project has long been a groundbreaking project to create an affordable open source 3D printer that can print itself. Many RepRap parts have already been uploaded to Shapeways. We've always been very proud of that and love the idea of our technology being used to make another complimentary one. Now the RepRapWiki site has a tutorial showing you how to take a part 3D printed by Shapeways, make a mold of it and use it to build a RepRap mendel 3D printer. This could make it very inexpensive to create the plastic parts for the RepRap and will hopefully speed up the spread of the RepRaps to all the corners of the earth.
Combinatory manufacturing is the combination between the unique and the mass produced. 3D printing for example can deliver unique shapes and functionality for a relatively low per unit cost. Mass produced items with millions of copies will be much cheaper per unit but will not be unique in their shape or functionality. But, by being standardized they can pack a lot of functionality into a cheap package. By combining the best of both worlds you can come up with great products.
As a technology platform the cell phone is hard to beat. They are inexpensive, ranging from $25 and up, and within the mobile phone's suite of applications a myriad of technologies are packed. Messaging, speech, speakers, screen, microphones, calling, geolocation and an OS can now be found on the simplest of devices. I believe that a cell phone would be very exciting and powerful technology technology platform for Makers and Designers to build around. Not only straightforward things such as interchangeable personalized covers but also things such as hacking a standard phone so it becomes a tracking device for your car or automatically sends out messages if leaves the county.
This is why I was so happy to see a post on Make about an inexpensive robot that uses a cell phone as its brain. The Android based phone Truckbot is also easy to programme. As much as I love the Arduino these kind of developments really make me think that for the Make community cell phones could lead to a lot of exciting products. Arduino's are great and also really pack a punch but they don't go over the counter in their millions. Check out the Truckbot video below.