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Three-dimensional printing's a reality.
March 2, 2001 2:33 AM   Subscribe

Three-dimensional printing's a reality. While this technology will certainly help out mass production, here's the big question: Who will be the first to exploit this technology for odious purposes? And how far are we away from the transporter?
posted by ed (17 comments total)

 
> Who will be the first to exploit this technology
> for odious purposes?

Me! Me! Pick me!
posted by pracowity at 2:51 AM on March 2, 2001


Stereo lithography's been around for a little while - I'm fiddling with a surface viewer that outputs a .stl file so repilcas of bones (or, actually, most anything in .srf format) can be made out of plastic.


Pracowity, if you can think of an odious purpose for plastic bones, I've the tools to help.
posted by methylsalicylate at 3:50 AM on March 2, 2001



My Freshman year in College (1996) we had a class that let us design a 'prototype' in a 3d Design program and have it built in the Stereo Lithography machine on campus. It was really neat to be there for the idea, design and manufacturing of the product.

Due to the high costs, however, we were limited to 3"x3"x3" cube to work in and no, we didn't get to keep the part.

We learned that this was it perfect for rapid prototyping. Letting you actually hold and test (limited) the part before you have it manufactured through a more costly process.
posted by stew560 at 5:05 AM on March 2, 2001


Plastic bones? I'll have to think about it. Bones... bones... Funny bone? Herringbone? Redbone? Wishbone? Trombone?

Could we use them to fool dogs? Possibly. But should we? I don't think so. Poor doggies.

Hmm.

I can't think of a good (bad) odious use right now, but I would certainly like to see stereolithography for instant (boring representational) sculpture. People would sit, be scanned in three dimensions, and then wait while plastic models of themselves emerged from the gunk. (The odious part could be, I don't know, maybe replicas of porn stars?) Or instant mannequins? Perhaps use it to churn out humiliating replicas of dogs feeling a little foolish that they have just been duped (and duped again) by plastic bones?
posted by pracowity at 5:35 AM on March 2, 2001


Actually, Selective Laser Sintering is cooler; it builds castings you can sometimes actually test in place, depending on the circumstances.

As for the transporter, find a copy of _The_Physics_Of_Star_Trek_, which will also tell you why we won't have the warp drive anytime soon... :-)
posted by baylink at 5:35 AM on March 2, 2001


People would sit, be scanned in three dimensions, and then wait while plastic models of themselves emerged from the gunk.
Can do. Unfortunately, the setup here (twelve feet to my right) has a scanning table which rotates while the laser is fixed, instead of the other way around. Which means if you wanted a sculpture of your head, it would have to be removed from your body first. And while we certainly have the facilities to do that, we have run into the occasional ethical problem for doing so...
posted by methylsalicylate at 5:55 AM on March 2, 2001


Not to pick too many nits, but there's really nothing like a transporter here....
The process simply changes the state of matter that's already present. No matter is moving from one place to another...
As for nefarious uses for plastic bones - you could make sort of a super-wimpy Wolverine-type guy.... *shrug*

posted by Jako at 5:56 AM on March 2, 2001


> if you wanted a sculpture of your head, it would have
> to be removed from your body first.

And I have the feeling you'd be just the crazed plastic-bone-wielding forensic pathology lab lurker to do it.

So let's go with that. Say you neatly removed my head and placed it on the turntable, scanned it, and made a stereolithograph of my unlovely noggin. How detailed would it be? Would you see where I missed when I was shaving, or just have a vague idea that there's supposed to be a face there, or something in between? Would the stereolithograph be as thick and impenetrable as the original?


posted by pracowity at 7:13 AM on March 2, 2001


How detailed would it be?
Pretty detailed. The maximum resolution we use is 512 x 512 for a 3d object. This produces a damn large VRML file. I'm sure others have better, more recent technology. Yes, we could see where you missed shaving, if your hair was dark.
Would the stereolithograph be as thick and impenetrable as the original?
Undoubtedly. I would choose a high density polyethylene, personally.
Then there's the problem of storing your severed head afterward, something there've been problems with recently...
posted by methylsalicylate at 7:49 AM on March 2, 2001


We have one of these in the mail right now. ...can't wait.
posted by tomplus2 at 7:51 AM on March 2, 2001


An artist named Michael Reese does do sculpture using rapid prototyping. Unfortunately the link to his page is cobwebbing, but here's an old article of mine (ack! self-link! sort of) with a teeny pic of his work.
posted by frykitty at 8:52 AM on March 2, 2001


just a guess: we're as far away from a transporter as a solution to the problem of Schrodinger's Uncertainty Principle, at least.
posted by Sean Meade at 9:28 AM on March 2, 2001


I wonder - what resolution would something like living tissue be? (Considering that we keep finding smaller and smaller particles to dazzle our minds with.) Theoretically, what level would a 'transporter' or even a clone-er-ator *grin* have to work at? Anyone? Anyone? :-)
posted by thunder at 9:38 AM on March 2, 2001


Theoretically, what level would a 'transporter' or even a clone-er-ator *grin* have to work at? Anyone? Anyone?

Personally, I'm not stepping into any transporter that doesn't violate Heisenberg's uncertainty principle.

posted by straight at 12:08 PM on March 2, 2001


Warning: self link!

Following up on stories about atom optics, I sifted through the available info on the net regarding atom holography.

Very intriguing possibilities, sounds kinda ST replicator-like...
posted by NortonDC at 1:37 PM on March 2, 2001


Perhaps self-linking is the first step in transmitting human tissue.


posted by ed at 10:14 PM on March 2, 2001


sounds like a replicator -- is that far away now?
posted by alethe at 12:52 PM on March 4, 2001


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