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(Pocket-lint) - 3D printing is the future. But for many it’s not now as it’s too expensive. RS Components and RepRap have teamed up to create an affordable 3D printer, called Ormerod, that will change that. And they’ve taken it a step further by making it self-replicating.

The £499 printer is an exciting prospect in itself, but one that can self-replicate is even more tantalising. But before we get too carried away just know you can’t buy one and print off an army more - only the plastic parts are self-replicating at this stage.

READ: 3D printing: Everything you need to know and when it'll be affordable

The RepRapPro Ormerod will be delivered in parts to be assembled on arrival. This probably helps sell it cheaper but is also good as when you come to replace parts it should be simpler knowing how it's put together. The only thing we don’t get is, how do you print off a part to replace a broken bit if the printer is broken?

The printer will come with free DesignSpark Mechanical 3D modelling software. It sounds like this is aimed at engineers and professionals looking to make models, so the level of depth in the software is great enough for a professional. And with a print accuracy of 0.1mm at an accuracy of 0.0125mm and build speed of 1.8mm per minute it’s backed by quality hardware.

The Ormerod itself prints using a Fused Filament Fabrication processes. While this will be one material only initially (PLA or PLA), add-ons will become available that make it possible to print with three different colours (and varied plastics). The design is simple too and should only take two hours to build from scratch.

"The availability of low cost 3D printing technology with the RepRapPro Ormerod, combined with the free and intuitive DesignSpark Mechanical and library of 3D component models from RS, is the dawn of a new era of 3D design and rapid prototyping that will see it move from a niche group of CAD specialists to a much wider spectrum of users," said Mark Cundle, head of technical marketing at RS Components. "It is no overstatement to say these are revolutionary times for engineers, which will massively increase the scope for innovation and faster time-to-market."

A red version of the printer is available in a limited edition of 500 and the standard models, in green, are also on sale from the RS website.

Writing by Luke Edwards. Originally published on 2 December 2013.