A Machine to Duplicate You?
How many times have you wished that you made a copy of your toddler’s favorite but hard to find toy, before she broke it?
Copy a toy? Am I kidding you? Not really!
Watch this video to see how David Kaplan, a physicist at Johns Hopkins University gets his adjustable wrench copied by a 3D printer at Z corporation in Burlington, MA, and note his expression of surprise. Don’t forget that it takes a lot to surprise a theoretical physicist! How are ordinary people supposed to react to this? Many Americans still do not believe that men had walked on moon, will those people believe their eyes if they see a 3D copier machine?
In the above demonstration, Joe Titlow, Vice President of Product Management greets Kaplan and tells him that his company is one of the leading manufacturers of 3D printers. They operate in the realm of Sci-fi movies that would take any neophyte’s breath away. When Kaplan asks Titlow if he can make a copy of his wrench, the latter answers nonchalantly, “Of course.”
Kaplan warns Titlow that the wrench has a moving part, Titlow nonetheless does not show the slightest concern—he says in a matter of fact way, “Not a problem.”
To add complexity to the task, Kaplan asks if he could select the color of the moving part of his wrench as red. Again, the answer is: No problem.
As the wrench is being scanned for the 3D printer’s computer input, Kaplan asks, “What is the accuracy of measurements for this machine?
“40 microns,” Titlow answers.
“That’s the thickness of a human hair!”
“Actually, thinner than a human hair,” Titlow replies confidently.
The heart of a 3D printer is a computer that uses Mechanical CAD (computer-aided design) software packages, to convert the information of the model collected by a scanner to 3D source data. Regardless, all those complexity of CAD, and the process of utilizing different print heads in synch, is transparent to the user. Once scanned, it is a matter of pressing the print button, and in no time the complete 3D copy of the wrench comes out. The ‘printed’ wrench can be used just as a normal wrench; only difference is, that it is, although very tough, not made of steel, but some kind of polymers.Continued on the next page