Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Extraordinary 3D Printing

The recent blog written by Z Corp.’s firmware engineer Andrew Berlin about how he used 3D printing in a non-traditional way to encode information  generated a great deal of interest. I think that is fantastic and I am grateful that Andy took the time to write about his efforts. I thought you might want to see a brief video of the ZPrinted record album working. We are working on an audio file, but in the meantime, enjoy the short video

The level of interest his blog generated got me wondering about other “out of the ordinary” ways that 3D printing is being used. For example, there is Enrico Dini who was featured in Popular Science magazine. He believes that someday entire buildings will be “printed.” For now, he is creating large intricate architectural elements that could not have otherwise been created: http://www.blueprintmagazine.co.uk/index.php/architecture/the-worlds-first-printed-building/.

There is also the work being done in Bio-fabrication by Thomas Boland of the University of Texas, Paul Calvert of U Mass. Dartmouth and others. This is a fascinating and diverse field of studies that includes printing biological materials in order to create 3D living tissues. An Internet search will result in pages similar to the following. http://iopscience.iop.org/1758-5090/2/1/010201/pdf/1758-5090_2_1_010201.pdf. This is very far removed from a typical design cycle where 3D printing is commonly used. If successful, this work could lead to 3D printers designed specifically for “building” human organs!

Another example outside the norm is Pixar’s Toy Story Zeotrope. The full color Spectrum Z™510 made this project possible. Because the Toy Story characters were digitally created they were “trapped” inside the computer. Without 3D printing it would not have been possible to accurately translate them from virtual to actual characters. Click the following link for a description of the Zeotrope: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ByimDfnq_Fg and click the following link for a higher resolution video of the Zeotrope in action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKPtmXK--bA&feature=related.

Also check out this YouTube video of two artists who make musical instruments from ZPrinted parts. Audio files and even a music video are currently in development and will be posted when they’re complete.
(Courtesy Elasticbrand [Christie Wright & Arjen Noordeman]
Project: AudioWear
Music by Skooby Laposky
Produced at the new EKWC (European Ceramic Work Centre) CAD/CAM facility, August - September 2010

So, from architectural structures to bio-fabrication to digital arts, new uses for 3D printing are being explored every day. Some are whimsical and some may have very practical applications. Regardless of their utility, what they all have in common is that they have been made possible by 3D printing technologies.

Do you have an interesting, creative use for 3D printers? Let me know about it and I just might feature you here.

http://www.zcorp.com/

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