3. 3D print your very own Van Gogh…for a few thousand quid
We’ve already discussed the possibilities of 3D printing and crime pretty thoroughly on this site but one thing we haven’t looked at is art forgery. Yet, as Fuji proved with its Reliefography printer, it is definitely a field in which 3D printing could be extremely useful. And this week Tim Zaman, a Dutch researcher, has announced the development of a brand new 3D scan and print process that can make beautifully detailed recreations of old masterpieces, right down to individual brush strokes. With 600 dots per inch resolution, every single detail of a painting can be reproduced with remarkable clarity. Of course, the real purpose of Zaman’s concept is not criminality but commerce, giving art-lovers the ability to get their hands on near-perfect replicas for a drop-down price.
2. The Vader molten metal 3D printer
The Maker Faire, which took place in New York last week, was unsurprisingly packed to the rafters with 3D print machines. One of the most interesting was the metal printer concept exhibited by father/son manufacturing team Zachary and Scott Vader. Their prototype Liquid Metal printing device can fire off objects in aluminium and copper but if you’re a hobbyist or enthusiastic amateur it might be outside your price range – a custom-built model will be priced somewhere between $20,000 and $100,000. Though the Vaders do have plans to create a smaller version that retails for around 10K, the duo admit they are not entirely sure how such a model would work. Expensive or not, the prototype is a huge leap forward in the race to make the 3D printer a commonly used manufacturing tool. While metal printing does exist, its current form is only really useful for small-scale objects such as jewellery. Larger items like machine parts are not practical, as they come out porous. The Vaders’ device houses an electric furnace that melts the metal ingots it uses to print, creating sturdier, more useful objects.
1. The Open Hand Project
One of the key problems with medical supplies is not availability but cost. A top-of-the-line prosthetic limb, for example, is likely to set the buyer back around £70,000. The Open Hand Project is aiming to change that, by proving that high quality medical equipment can be created cost effectively. The main feature of its crowd-funding campaign is the Dextrus, a low cost robotic hand that is almost as functional as a regular, human hand, which the Open Hand Project plans to sell for less than £630. The organisers plan to publish their blueprints online, so anybody on the planet with access to a 3D printer will be able to fire it off themselves. Not only does this cut out the distribution middle-men, it also avoids import taxes that make sending supplies to developing countries prohibitively expensive.