The idea of ‘teleportation’ has long been a part of science fiction, but now it is growing closer to reality with the advent of 3D printing.
A new prototype that uses a 3D printer has allowed scientists to scan in an object and transport its digital blueprint to another printer.
The machine has even been called Scotty, after the engineer in the original Star Trek series, who was chief engineer on the star ship Enterprise.
It should be made clear that this is not actual teleportation, but copying an item’s digital ‘layers’, destroying the original item.
The reproduced item is a replacement copy, so we are a long way from the Star Trek concept of beaming people between locations, or even Mike TV’s unfortunate experience of being reduced in size in Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
The work of ‘Scotty’ is very limited: the original item has to be in black paint to maximise the contrast for the digital camera to scan the object, the copy of which can only be reproduced in plastic and in one colour.
Effectively it is a copier and not a transporter of the original – so this would not be something you would want to do to ship items on eBay. However, the science fiction of yesteryear is on the way to becoming science fact today: A virtual design can be made in a Computer Aided Design (CAD) file and print an actual 3D object, as opposed to just a 2D image of an item via, for example, a photocopier.
Infigo is looking at prototypes, as an extension of what we can already do with our Catfish web-to-print software. We’re looking at the potential of 3D printing for use in personalised print, which is a growing requirement in the market place.
Imagine the possibilities: replacement parts for say, a vintage car, which are no longer manufactured or to be found, or just print the entire object of your desire without having to pay out huge amounts of money, potentially, for the original. As long as you are happy with having a copy, of course.
Prosthetics, as one example, can already be produced using 3D printing and scientists believe we could be as close as only five years away from printing cartilage to repair airways, among other sections, in humans.
Therefore, printing items such as personalised dolls or models and many other consumer items is very possible - and personalised items is what everybody wants today.
Our clients, using our software, have developed personalised chocolates and photobooks, among many other items. Many historical items have survived precisely because they have had their initials printed on them and therefore been looked after, as they are precious to the owner.
Whether it is dolls or personalised playing cards, the possibilities to build on basic models are unquantifiable. We are exploring some of these avenues and would happily welcome enquiries to help your business develop, using the exciting, innovative new world of 3D printing.