Chuck Hull may have invented additive manufacturing back in 1984, but open source sharing of both hardware and software has been pivotal in bringing 3D printing into the mainstream consciousness.

That's because, if two heads are better than one, millions of heads with free access to the technology can, and have, created many of the innovations that have made 3D printing accessible to so many people.

"Everything in the desktop 3D printer world exists because of RepRap, every printer, every file, every article you see written," John Olafson, a builder at SeeMeCNC said.

RepRappers will be able to share in the discussion so crucial to that innovative process at the Second Annual Midwest RepRap Festival at the Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds in Elkhart, Ind. this weekend.

SeeMeCNC, headquartered in nearby Goshen, Ind., is hosting the event, which will include companies like Lulzbot, which got its start by modifying an open source printer.

"It's a totally free event," Olafson, who is also the festival coordinator, said. "There's zero cost so everybody can come."