Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Myth or Fact? 3D Printing Provides the Answer

If you are like me you and have a natural thirst for knowledge and technology you probably watch TV channels like The Learning Channel, Discovery Channel, Science Channel, History Channel and others. For me, there might be 200 channels, as the saying goes, but there is something on at least some of those channels. I could run down a list of my favorites like Modern Marvels, How it’s Made, Dirty Jobs, and Pitchmen but I’m sure everyone has their own favorites. One that’s been on for a while and I really like is Mythbusters with hosts Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage. In the show, Jamie and Adam use science to either prove or “bust” common myths. They have also been known to blow stuff up which could be another reason I like the show. For example, there is a myth about thieves that drilled a small hole in the top of a safe, filled it with water and used dynamite to blow the safe apart from the inside. According to the myth, the incompressible water would transfer the force of the dynamite to the walls of the safe. Toward the end of the show they reveal whether the myth is plausible or busted. If it’s busted they usually go much further to see what it would take to achieve the desired result. That’s usually when stuff gets blown up.

A few months ago I was watching a new episode. In typical show fashion, Jamie and Adam pursued one myth while co-hosts Kari Byron, Tory Belleci and Grant Imahara pursued a different one. If I remember correctly Jamie and Adam were cutting up an old Porche sports car to see if it was more aerodynamic going backwards than forwards. The other segment was about the myth that a car with a surf board on the roof, involved in a head-on collision, would propel the surfboard with enough energy to penetrate the windshield of the second car and kill the driver. The myth was from the movie Lethal Weapon 2. They start out by conducting full scale tests by recreating the crash scene. After making observations they decide to analyze why the board failed to fly straight and hit the target windshield. The full episode can be seen in two parts here: and here: The surfboard myth starts at the 6 minute mark of part one. Kari wants to build a small scale model of the surfboard and bring it for flight analysis in a water tank at NASA. Her first attempt at building the scale model is by hand. She quickly realized that for this test she would need accuracy and turned to CAD and 3D printing.

This segment starts at the 10 minute mark of the part two of the video and includes Kari pulling the miniature surfboard from a ZPrinter 450.

The accuracy of the board is evident in the aerodynamic water tank and it helped prove why the myth was...

I’ll let you watch the episode to see if it was proven or busted!

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