3-D printing is a young technology, but its pioneers and champions aren't satisfied with printing cars, airplane parts, or tiny edible spaceships--they're always looking down the road at what's next. We talked with some of the best minds in 3-D printing about their dream projects--not what's possible now, but what their current work might lead to in five or ten years. These six dream projects are pretty astounding, and what's most striking is how attainable they seem. These aren't pipe dreams. They're our future.
Few people experience the adrenaline spike that a Formula One driver gets tearing down a straightaway at 230 mph. To bring that thrill to the masses, the owners of Ferrari World Abu Dhabi—the world's largest indoor theme park—built the Formula Rossa roller coaster, which opened last October.
In 2000, Tal Golesworthy, a British engineer, was told that he suffers from Marfan syndrome, a disorder of the connective tissue that often causes rupturing of the aorta. The only solution then available was the pairing of a mechanical valve and a highly risky blood thinner. To an engineer like Golesworthy, that just wasn't good enough. So he constructed his own implant that does the job better than the existing solution--and became the first patient to try it.
What does an engineer do when he needs insight? “I don’t think,” says Maurizio Porfiri. “I watch an insane amount of movies.” He also tends listens to the Cure, devours novels, and tends to his tomatoes. That’s not to say Porfiri is a slacker. He works across several fields to build underwater devices and puts in 12-hour days at the lab, but his best thoughts come to him while he's relaxing.
Researchers at the University of Newcastle in the UK have created a new kind of concrete glue that can patch up the cracks in concrete structures, restoring buildings that have been damaged by seismic events or deteriorated over time.
Ten years ago, even though he was on the fast track at Siemens in India, Santosh Kumar abruptly quit. Coming up with code for telecom switches was not how he wanted to spend his life. Instead he moved to the U.S. to pursue a Ph.D. in computer science. He had an idea for inexpensive, low-power wireless sensor technology and how it might solve serious real-world problems. His leap paid off. Now a professor at the University of Memphis, he develops tracking systems that can foil robbers and might even help cure drug addiction.
On a rural spread of acreage in South Carolina, insurance companies are looking to cover themselves against losses by knocking down houses. That might sound counterintuitive, but from an engineering standpoint it makes perfect sense. The industry-funded Institute for Business & Home Safety yesterday opened a $40 million, 2,300-square-foot disaster lab yesterday that is among the best in the world, with the ability to subject entire homes to tornado-strength winds or Category 3 hurricanes.
Even with great strides being made regularly in the realms of nanotech and materials science, Moore's Law – the notion that the number of transistors that can be placed on a given integrated circuit doubles every 18-24 months – has for several years been bearing down on engineers who have shrunk conventional chip technology about as far as material limitations will let them.
At PopSci we're comfortable with the concept of time travel, but this story is perhaps a bit more than we can wrap our heads around. The Saudi Arabian city of Mecca is building the biggest clock in the world -- a massive 1,983-foot tower sporting four timekeeping faces each 151 feet in diameter -- with the goal of displacing Greenwich Mean Time as the world's central time zone.
Micro electromechanical systems–or MEMS–hold a lot of promise for the future of high tech, but they also have their drawbacks, namely that they aren’t very precise. That’s because at such small scales there are no standards by which to measure very small forces or distances. But a team of Purdue researchers has developed a way for MEMS to self-calibrate, potentially opening the door to a variety of super-precise sensors and instruments used in everything from medicine to engineering to defense.