This plasma cutter
promises tool interchangeability, and synergy
with its RepRap cousin.
BY ABE CONNALLY
This is not just an ordinary CNC, plasma-cutting monster of a machine. It can copy itself, too. And on top of being inherently self-replicating,
the project is completely open source. Meet Open Source Ecology’s (OSE)
newest badass tool: Rep Tab.
Based on the much-praised RepRap project,
Rep Tab is an open source CNC plasma cutter. It
boasts a 4-foot by 8-foot work area, and can cut
anything that conducts electricity, from aluminum
to steel, up to 1 inch thick.
Made mostly of steel, the Rep Tab torch table can
actually make a copy of itself (minus the motors and
controller electronics). The machine was designed
on and is run with popular open source software,
including Blender (conceptual designs), Inkscape
(cut paths for the machine), Linux (laptop OS), and
EMC2 (motor controller).
One of the interesting features of Rep Tab is that
the cutting head is interchangeable (router, plasma,
oxyacetylene, laser, water jet, etc.), making it versatile and extremely useful.
“Other machines make that difficult without
major modifications,” says Marcin Jakubowski, the
group’s founder and director. “We can make up to
10-foot-long windmill blades if we modify the table
as a router table. That’s pretty useful.”
But Rep Tab is more than a self-replicating
machine. It’s also been a major experiment in
developing open source hardware at the group’s
Photograph by Marcin Jakubowski
66 Make: Volume 21