3-D printing has yielded items both fascinating and potentially troubling. Now we can add one more to the list of printed achievements: The U.S. Army has had a rapid prototyping wing for some time, and now they've deployed full teams--complete with scientists and 3-D printers--to Afghanistan.
What you might not expect when you’re expecting: a company that wants to 3-D print a statuette of your unborn child. Japanese engineering outfit Fasotec will gladly take an MRI scan of an expecting mother’s fetus and using its BioTexture modeling software to capture 3-D data related to human tissues convert that scan into a CAD file, then print it up in resin. It’s called the “Shape of Angel” service (what else?), and it will only set you back roughly $1,250.
President Obama’s nationwide push for innovation in manufacturing reaches across agencies from the National Science Foundation to the Department of Energy, and now it’s reaching all the way into the Pentagon where $60 million is being set aside for investment in 3-D printing technologies.
What’s the point of 3-D printing an Indy car if it’s not ultra-fast? Using a high-resolution 3-D printing technology known as “two-photon lithography”--a technique that is normally quite slow--researchers at the Vienna University of Technology have made a huge breakthrough in printing speed, setting a new high-speed record by printing orders of magnitude faster than was previously possible.
Even hermit crabs aren’t immune to swings in their own ecological economies. A global shortage of shells is leaving the entire species short on housing, and the DIY design community over at Makerbot isn’t having it. Stepping in to bring shelter to the shell-less, Makerbot has launched Project Shellter along with artist in residence Miles Lightwood to crowdsource new shell designs that can be fabricated on Makerbot's 3-D printers.
As 3-D printing in various media and materials becomes more ubiquitous, we’re starting to see some things emerging that directly challenge some norms and understandings of what craftsmanship and engineering are and can/will be. For instance, today we bring you a violin magnificently printed by German firm EOS to the specs of a Stradivarius, challenging the way we think of artisanal craftsmanship.
Engineers at the University of Southampton in the UK have designed, printed, and sent skyward the world’s first aircraft manufactured almost entirely via 3-D printing technology. The UAV--dubbed SULSA (Southampton University Laser Sintered Aircraft)--is powered by an electric motor that is pretty much the only part of the aircraft not created via additive manufacturing methods.
It’s one thing for humans to make robots, but the idea of robots making robots tends to conjure all those sci-fi scenarios wherein Arnold Schwarzenegger or Keanu Reeves have to save what’s left of humanity. Nonetheless, the U.S. military presses on.
Rapid prototyping, or 3-D printing, has been used to create all kinds of amazing objects in a variety of media, but a team working under EADS in the UK wants to print something heretofore unheard of: the entire wing of an airliner. Working at the same facility where Concordes were once built, researchers there are already printing landing gear brackets and other aircraft components in hopes that one day they’ll be able to print out many of the critical parts for an entire aircraft.
They said it couldn’t be done, but Oskar van Deventer—a longtime puzzle maker living in the Netherlands—created it anyhow: a 17-by-17-by-17 tile Rubik’s cube that, as far as we know, is an unofficial world record for the world’s largest and most complex Rubik’s puzzle.
As far as things that come out of the MIT Media Lab are concerned, perhaps a flute is among the less impressive. But take into account that the entire fully-functioning acoustic instrument was created via 3-D printer with a minimum of human assembly, and it sounds markedly more impressive.
Remember back in January when HP announced it would bring a tabletop 3-D printer to market, at a place and time to be named later? That place and time just became a quite a bit less ambiguous. Today Stratasys, the company that is manufacturing the device for HP, announced that it has shipped the first units of the HP-branded Designjet 3D fabrication machines, which will be available in May -- but only in Europe.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.