It is possible that the invention of 3D printing will go down in history as one of the most revolutionary inventions in human life. To think – any thing, the creation of which used to take days, weeks or even months, can now be done in a matter of hours. And when technical barriers are overcome, a person can create almost any object – from furniture to electronic devices. Already, individual enthusiasts and entire research centers create a variety of devices using 3D printers. The most interesting of them will be discussed below.
⇡ # 3D printing: a good start
Despite the fact that 3D printing only in recent years began to change our life, it was invented not a year or even ten years ago. Her father is Charles W. Hull. Today he is over 75 years old, but the inventor of the very first technology of three-dimensional printing – stereolithography – and does not think to retire. "I'm old enough to retire, but I'm so curious that I will not do it," Chuck says, laughing. His name is not well known to the public, but Chuck's contribution to the development of three-dimensional printing is simply huge. The name of Chuck Hall is put on a par with such names as Thomas Edison or Steve Jobs. Chuck Hull owns more than 60 patents in the US, and he is also the author of the universal STL three-dimensional format.
More than thirty years ago, Chuck in his laboratory managed to print the first thing – a small cup. He was so enthusiastic about his creation that, despite the late hour, woke up his wife and showed her the first sample of 3D printing. Sleepy wife in pajamas looked at the creation of her husband and frankly admitted that she was expecting something better. But neither Chuck nor his wife could imagine what this discovery would lead to.
The method, tested by the scientist, was very simple. Liquid photopolymer fills a certain capacity. On the surface of the material, the ultraviolet ray moves, which causes the material to become solid at the right place. Layer by layer, the polymerization process forms a solid object.
Three decades later, Hull admitted in an interview that he did not expect that his invention would have an impact on medicine. But today there is no doubt that the rapid production of robotic prostheses, glasses, aids for people with disabilities, not to mention artificial organs – all this means a revolution in medicine and the discovery of new approaches to treatment.
⇡ # Three-dimensional printing and medicine
Implant production using 3D printing is one of the most promising areas in modern surgery. With the frequency of a day or two there are news that with the help of three-dimensional printing, one or another organ was grown or a new prosthesis was made.
The future, where a three-dimensional seal is present in every house, seems futuristic and incredible. But even more strange is the world in which medicine has reached a new level and uses 3D printing in order to return a full life to people with physical disabilities. Moreover, some experiments conducted today by scientists, suggest that the three-dimensional print will change the person himself.
⇡ # Upgrade of a person
Belgian scientists from the University of Hasselt implanted an eighty-three-year-old woman's jaw. It was created in just a few hours, while earlier such a part would have been manufactured for several days. The jaw was printed on a 3D printer made from a special titanium alloy. Now somewhere in distant Belgium, a happy grandmother with titanium teeth chews the ham straight with bones and gnaws on the spore walnuts. Jokes are jokes, but the pace at which doctors are approaching the creation of a cyberman is simply staggering.
Doctors have already learned how to create artificial bones and joints by printing them on a 3D printer. And this is not the technology of the future, today there are hundreds of people on the planet who can live thanks to the printed implants. So, in March of this year, British doctors returned to the normal life of Stephen Power, who had a crushed skull as a result of the accident. Initially, the X-ray images of the face were carefully examined, and then the artificial parts of the skull were printed on the 3D printer, taking into account all the anatomical features of the patient. After a complex operation, doctors from Wales put the printed parts of the skull to Stephen, returning the symmetry of the face. Looking at this person a few months after the operation, you do not even believe that he experienced such a terrible accident.
At the same time, another unique operation was performed at the Medical Center of the University of Utrecht: the young girl was replaced almost all the skull with a plastic printed copy. This was extremely necessary, since the thickness of the girl's skull due to the disease was constantly increasing, which created a real threat to life. At the time of surgery, the girl had a loss of vision and severe headaches. The operation lasted 23 hours, and the result surpassed all expectations. After only a few months, the girl has already gone to work and feels much better than before the operation. Her vision returned, and nothing reminds her that her life was hanging by a thread.
But this is not as impressive as the prototypes of bionic implants, which are constantly demonstrated by biologists. For example, the associate professor of the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering in Princeton, McElpine, last year showed a printed artificial ear that allows you to hear radio waves.
The finished ear consists of a spiral antenna inside the cartilaginous structure. Two wires lead from the base of the ear and wrap around a spiral "snail" – that part of the ear that allows a person to perceive the sound. If it is connected to electrodes, in theory one can not only restore hearing, but also make it sharper, and also expand the perceived frequency range.
⇡ # How to print a house
As soon as it became obvious that the future was behind 3D printers, architects rushed to develop layouts of buildings that could be folded out of printed blocks. At first sight this task seemed not so complicated. Creating a house from printed parts – the procedure is as simple as folding the designer LEGO. So the builders-printers of the future houses thought. For example, in 2013 an architect named Janjaap Ruijssenaars from Universe Architecture confidently claimed to be able to demonstrate the world's first building, printed on a printer, as early as 2014. But only a few months after the first sensational statements in the media, the dates were much more distant. In the opinion of the architect, it took at least one and a half years to erect such an ambitious creation.
And, as always, in the race for the right to be called the first to be drawn into China. While American and European builders were colorfully describing their projects and anticipating the advertising hype that would accompany the opening of such projects, Chinese enterprising businessmen were one step ahead.
The little-known Chinese company Winsun New Materials from Suzhou County (Jiangsu Province) has developed a new approach to the erection of simple one-story buildings. With the help of a huge 3D-printer Chinese builders promise an unprecedented speed of building houses – up to ten buildings in 24 hours! To design such a super-useful tool for construction, Chinese businessmen invested 3.2 million dollars. The very same printer for the construction of houses was developed by engineers for 12 years.
No less interesting is the material used in the construction of new houses. The company Winsun New Materials uses unclaimed construction debris, which makes the houses environmentally friendly and incredibly cheap – only $ 4,800 for the construction. China bribed all the cheap, proving that three-dimensional printing in modern construction is no longer an expensive pampering and exotics.
The only detail that the Chinese have not yet learned to print on a printer is the roof. The builders explain that at this stage it is impossible to erect this part of the building for technical reasons.
It is curious that a Chinese construction company could realize many more large projects, if not for bureaucratic delays. In one of the interviews Winsun New Materials representatives complain that the erection of buildings using this technology requires appropriate regulations, which officials simply do not have time to confirm.
⇡ # 3D printing via the Internet
The development of 3D printing technologies stimulates the appearance of startups, which in one way or another are related to 3D printing. All these decisions lie on the surface, and smart dealers do not miss the chance to earn. Three-dimensional printers have not yet become as familiar peripherals as inkjet or laser. Therefore, web services for printing 3D-objects through online orders can bring a fairly large income to their owners.
One of the most successful projects in this area is the Shapeways service, which allows not only to remotely order the printing of their models, but also to use a number of additional services, for example to use special types of coatings for printed products, to organize the sale of their models, etc.
⇡ # Bumpy Photo: turning photos into bas-relief
In addition to services like Shapeways, other projects related to 3D printing are already available on the Web. An example of such a "timely" service is the Bumpy Photo project.
Simultaneously with the growing popularity of three-dimensional printing, users began to show more and more interest, if you can say so, to all three-dimensional. Someone has discovered a whole world of 3D graphics and now with the help of a three-dimensional editor is engaged in the development and visualization of his ideas, printing a prototype on the printer. Other users began to look for simpler ways of creating 3D, then again to print out their ideas, implementing them in the form of layouts. Just on this category of people, Bumpy Photo also made a bet.
When a person looks at a photo, he unconsciously determines the volume of objects in the picture, sees the depth of the scene in the frame. Specialists of Bumpy Photo came up with a way with which you can determine the convexity of objects in a flat picture. With the help of a special algorithm, the selected image is analyzed and a so-called relief map is compiled for it, defining the near and far points in the picture. If these points are shifted in the image, a normal photograph will get a pseudo-stereoscopic effect.
The creators of the service rightly assumed that there are many who wish to receive such a printed bas-relief. Portraits of relatives, as well as photos of beloved animals can find a second life and become a bit more realistic if you turn them into a 3D surface. Illusion will become even more noticeable if the light source is correctly placed near such a three-dimensional photograph.
⇡ # Minockio: print yourself
A man likes to look at himself from outside – in a photo, video, in a mirror. Perhaps, that's why there are so many projects among 3D printing services that allow you to print yourself. One of these services is called Minockio. With the help of a simple online designer you can design a cartoon character that will be like a certain person. Then the created design is sent to print and the output is a four-inch statuette with familiar features, which shakes his head funny.
⇡ # Shapify.me: Attack of the Clones
The Shapify.me web service is similar to the previous one, but it does not create a cartoonish one, but a realistic 3D human copy. The process of creating a three-dimensional model is extremely simple and effective. In order to get a 3D model, you must use a Microsoft Kinect device in conjunction with an Xbox 360 game console or a computer running Windows. Using the camera, the system scans the person from different angles. Based on the shots taken, a three-dimensional model is formed, which can be sent to print. In this case, you do not need to know the skills of 3D modeling and know the features of the work of three-dimensional editors. Everything is simple and fast, and the finished result, a small figure, can be sent to someone as a gift or put on the table and rejoice.
⇡ # How to print the sound
Acoustic systems sometimes have quite an amazing look – they can look like a pair of parallelepipeds, can have the form of a speaker or remind the sea shells. But the geometry of acoustic systems is not only the result of the designer's fantasy. In order for this device to give the listener a natural sound, the designer must follow the laws of physics, experimenting with form and materials. By and large, this is a whole science, in which there are many interesting solutions and unusual approaches. And in this issue, 3D printing speeds up the pace of creative search.
⇡ # Earpiece printed on a 3D printer
The heart of any speaker system is dynamics. No matter how hard the engineers try to improve the sound of acoustics, there is a limit, which is determined by the technical characteristics of these parts. However, it is possible that 3D printing can help in the future improve these characteristics. Last year, there were several attempts to create a speaker using 3D printing technology. The first such experiment was carried out by the New Zealand designer Simon Ellison (19459003)
He managed to create a dynamic design, which is 90 percent plastic. The only element that had to be left was a magnet with a winding. The column with the glass dome and the printed speaker, which Simon ultimately demonstrated, looks amazing, no worse than the expensive systems from eminent companies.
For the highest quality sound, the designer used a combination of different materials. The printing of components took nine hours, and a few more hours was spent by the designer on the assembly of the product. How well the sound system sounds is difficult to say, but it looks impressive.
Following Simon, a similar experiment was conducted by Cornell University specialists Apoorva Kiran and Robert MacCurdy. True, their loudspeaker had a rather mediocre sound and looked much more modest than Simon's device.
Perhaps the most unusual project for the production of acoustics using 3D printing was proposed by a group of researchers from Disney Research. Conventional loudspeakers consist of two obligatory parts – a magnet and a winding. When these elements interact, vibration occurs, which is transferred to the membrane, which gives rise to sound. The new technology, proposed by specialists, is based on the electrostatic design of the dynamics. In this case, the sound is formed by a membrane that is clamped between two conductive surfaces. When a signal is applied to these conductive surfaces, air between them acquires a charge, and deformation of the membrane occurs, that is, a sound is generated. Taking into account the fact that 3D printers are increasingly using several materials and there are already separate devices that allow printing with conductive material, it will be very easy to create such acoustic systems in the near future. This technology opens up new opportunities for acoustics designers, because the speakers will be able to have any shape.
⇡ # The music that was printed
It may seem strange, but the sound itself can also be "sent to print." To do this, you need just nothing – to give the technique in the hands of the artist. These people think outside the box and use the tool in their own way. For example, the Swedish artist Rickard Dahlstrand has learned to materialize the sound. He took the printer for 3D printing and listened to its sound. Like any other technique, this device produces a characteristic sound during operation. The tone and tone of the sound depend on the positioning of the print head. Rickard Dahlstrand tried to print music, forcing the head to move in the right direction. It turned out such a "Kalyaka Malyaka", look at which people are lining up.
Так, на выставке Music Hack Day 2013, которая проходила в Стокгольме, Рикард организовал целую галерею распечатанных музыкальных произведений — от увертюры к «Вильгельму Теллю» Россини до Пятой симфонии Бетховена и шедевров Моцарта. И, конечно, не обошел вниманием имперский марш из «Звездных войн».
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