It’s all about the ideas

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BathCamp #39

15th March 2013, 8:00 PM

Innovation Centre

In this special Bath Digital Festival edition of BathCamp, we’re joined by two leading lights in the world of ideas…

Margaret Heffernan: “How to recognise a good idea when you see one”

Ideas are cheap. We all have them all the time. Few of us take the time to recognize them, even fewer to take them apart and analyze whether they’re viable. But if you’re one of the true entrepreneurs whose ideas won’t leave you alone, what should you do? What are the best questions for testing whether this was ‘just an idea’ or the beginning of something big?

Margaret Heffernan has run 2 companies in the UK and 3 software businesses in the United States. The author of 3 books, she also blogs for the Huffington Post, Inc.com and CBSMoneywatch as well as mentoring Chief Executives and advising private companies.

Adrian Bowyer: “Imagine a world in which anyone can make anything” 

Look at your computer setup. Suppose you hooked up a 3D printer. Instead of printing on bits of paper this 3D printer makes real, robust, mechanical parts. To give you an idea of how robust, think Lego bricks and you’re in the right area. You could make lots of useful stuff, but interestingly you could also make lots of the parts to make another 3D printer. That would be a machine that could copy itself. This talk will be about RepRap – the Replicating Rapid-prototyper.

This 3D printer builds the stuff up in layers of plastic. This technology already existed before RepRap, but the cheapest proprietary machine then would have set you back £15,000. And it wasn’t even designed so that it could make itself. So what the RepRap team have done is to develop and to give away the designs for a much cheaper machine with the novel capability of being able to self-copy (material costs are about £400). That way it’s accessible to small communities in the developing world as well as individuals in the developed world. The RepRap machine is being distributed entirely free to everyone using open-source – so, if you have one, you can make another and give it to a friend…

Adrian Bowyer holds a first degree and a PhD in engineering from Imperial College. He was an academic at the University of Bath for 35 years. He retired from academic life in 2012 to help to run the company RepRap Professional Ltd. His areas of research are geometric modelling and geometric computing in general (he is one of the authors of the Bowyer-Watson algorithm for Voronoi diagrams), the application of computers to manufacturing, and biomimetics. In 2004 he created RepRap – humanity’s first self-replicating general-purpose manufacturing machine.

** Please note that as this is a special edition for the Bath Digital Festival, this is a ticketed event – you can get your ticket over on the BDF website **