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 user 2007-05-08 at 12:12:00 pm Views: 63
  • #18078

    Printers produce copies in 3D
    may sounds like science fiction, but the printer you buy in the future
    could be able to produce a real-life object from images on your
    computer.Several companies are working on developing low-cost
    three-dimensional printers which could eventually find their way into
    the home.The machines work by placing layers of a powdery material on
    top of each other to create a real-life model of a digital image.”With
    hundreds and sometimes thousands of layers, we can develop a prototype
    that works, from coffee cups to car parts, in a variety of textures and
    colours,” said Andy DeHart of the Z Corporation which makes 3D printers.

    Layering technique
    Boston-based company was showing off its technology at the recent
    computer graphics Siggraph exhibition in the US.(Much like putting ink
    on paper, it prints on powder and places a binder or glue during the
    layering process,Andy DeHart)”We can import data from any digital
    source,” Mr DeHart told the BBC programme Go Digital.”The data is
    brought into our print driver and then manipulated and exported to the
    3D printer.”The Z Corporation machines use a technology to bind the
    powder first invented by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.It
    works by spreading a thin layer of powder which is shaped by a liquid
    sprayed from an ink-jet print head adapted from a Hewlett-Packard
    design.The machine then repeats this process, building up layer after
    layer of powder until the object is complete.”The printer is a slicing
    technology,” said Mr DeHart. “Much like putting ink on paper, it prints
    on powder and places a binder or glue during the layering process.”

    High Street printers
    the powder, the company uses plaster, but it has also used a ceramic
    material to create more lasting models.Leading companies such as Sony,
    Adidas and BMW are using the 3D printing technology to create prototype
    models as it is faster and less expensive than using traditional
    methods.Mr DeHart from Z Corporation said the technology could make it
    to the High Street, with printing shops offering 3D models as well as
    conventional photocopies.”We don’t feel our technology is expensive,”
    said Mr DeHart. “Our entry level system starts at $30,000 and that
    system can support all powder types and all the geometric models.”

    Machines that print objects instead of images
    New York Times has a fascinating article on the future of 3-D printers.
    According to the story, manufacturers are working to cut the cost and
    size of machines that “print” objects instead of
    images.”Three-dimensional printers, often called rapid prototypers,
    assemble objects out of an array of specks of material, just as
    traditional printers create images out of dots of ink or toner,” the
    story says. “They build models in a stack of very thin layers, each
    created by a liquid or powdered plastic that can be hardened in small
    spots by precisely applied heat, light or chemicals.”Visionaries see a
    future in which consumers download the plans for something they want,
    push a button on their 3-D printer and wait a few hours for it to
    create the item of their desires.Also, if you want to make yourself
    dizzy, think about the possibilities of the Replicating
    Rapid-prototyper: RepRap will make plastic, ceramic, or metal parts,
    and is itself made from plastic parts, so it will be able to make
    copies of itself……..How does that sound?