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« Tech Trouble Foresight Sometimes Works | Main | Hobbyist Molecular Manufacturing »

June 05, 2009


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jim moore

I have been thinking "If i had a home faber what would I really want to fab on a daily basis?"


I have been able to (in theory) get rid of my books, my records, my video tapes which is freeing up a lot of space in my house. Next on the list is the whole dresser / closet - washer / drier and ton of clothing that is in my house. I would like to replace it with a home fiber faber - the clothing would fit my current dimensions, with no seams. Every night I toss the clothing into the recycler, put on my pajamas and pic out what I am using tomorrow. The stuff gets put together overnight and is ready the next day.

It would be a parents dream - no laundry - no storing away winter or summer cloths - no constant shopping to get the kids outfits that fit or school uniforms or sports outfits, - no added expense to keep up with holidays and fashion.

Still a Fiber Faber would be pretty impressive - it would need to handle different colors, different fibers, different styles, different thickness to the clothing and be able to clean, sort and store fibers from the used clothing.

From a nanotech perspective even a very thin fiber has a great deal of design space. (Fibers ~10 microns in diameter and ~10,000 microns long) So there is a huge potential to add functions to fibers over the long run - computing - communications - sensors - actuators - light emitters - energy storage. It possible to envision this as a pathway for incresingly tiny devices get integrated into daily life. (admittedly its not the most obvious pathway, although clothing was critical to the first industrial revolution)

mark o'leary

Thanks for responding to my question, and I'm glad you see glimmers of possibility in this space. I probably shouldnt have mentioned reprap, as I dont see microfactories necessarily being a design continuum from reprap, although what the reprap initiative does underline is that a microfactory designer may have to take an ugly piecemeal approach, for example, component types may come in different scales and tolerances; there may be subtractive as well as additive steps in the build process, etc.

I see this as much like engineering today, component/tolerances matching the subproblem at hand. After all a nm precision chip mfrg plant starts with cm precision bricks at its outer walls. For example, I imagine a microfactory would replicate in a sequence of less refined steps, such that the smallest/highest tolerance child parts are built/tested first, and the low tolerance outer scaffolding last - and probably some manual assembly still required, as for reprap.

mark o'leary

(cont...) On the other hand, I think that microfactories could be directly on the path to nanofactories, as nanoscale components gradually become available for advanced microfactories - perhaps the first nanofactory will be a microfactory with an onboard but very limited "nanoforge" subsystem.

My gut feeling is that there certainly is a market for microfactories as the technology, even if initially expensive, could serve a multitude of niche markets and the costs would rapidly drop. I think it would be more productive to push a microfactory vision (entirely plausible) harder than the nanofactory vision (perceived as sci fi). The nanofactory vision would be obvious and less controversial down the track.

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