IN THE THICK OF IT: (Opposite) Lawrence Kincheloe and Marcin Jakubowski pose inside the Rep Tab cutting
table. (This page) Kincheloe practices cutting with the plasma cutter tip on the Rep Tab.
Factor e Farm headquarters in rural Missouri.
Lawrence Kincheloe, who created the current
Rep Tab design, says his motivation to contribute to
the project was to “answer some serious questions
as to how to make a living doing open source work.”
The team hopes that the current prototype will
lead to a design that can be successfully marketed to
the DIY community as an open source product or kit.
Photograph by Lawrence Kincheloe
“The hardest part,” Kincheloe says, “is balancing
between keeping it as open as possible and still
making it viable and worthwhile to distribute and
Rep Tab can be built for $1,000, if you don’t count
the laptop and plasma cutter. So, it’s not the cheapest tool in your shop, but the team hopes that open
source collaboration will help bring the cost down,
as well as improve the overall design.
“I believe that’s where community development
can really play a big part in making it possible for
everyone who wants to get one,” says Kincheloe.
He envisions a time when the Rep Tab project
can incorporate RepRap components to create a
completely new concept that could work with many
“The synergy between the two machines means
that each has the possibility to work with materials
the other isn’t equipped to handle, and also hints
at the possibility of merging the functionality into a
table that can work with both metals and plastics,”
he enthuses. “At the moment, if you put a plasma
cutter onto a RepRap Darwin, it would likely melt
or cut through the table!”
Rep Tab is the latest in OSE’s open source
hardware toolbox (see their Life Trac tractor in
MAKE, Volume 18). The group maintains a well-documented website and wiki for every project.
Makers are encouraged to join in the development
of Rep Tab at openfarmtech.org/weblog/?cat=214.
Abe Connally follows open-source hardware projects from
his secluded off-grid hideaway. His experiments with architecture, energy, and sustainable systems are documented