Friday, July 18, 2008

My brilliant idea is becoming a reality

About ten years ago, as I marvelled at the wonderful variety of images I could create on my computer and print out, I had this great idea for reducing clutter and waste but which still allowed us humans to indulge our delight in consuming huge varieties of different products. I thought about what I called a ‘gloop machine’ which was basically like a printer that would produce three-dimensional items. Every household could buy one and you would simply use computer software to ‘print’ out whatever you needed
on your gloop machine. So you could put in your vital statistics for instance and use your fashion designer software to produce an outfit that fitted you perfectly. Or you could decide to have an oriental dinner party and you could use your gloop machine to produce a beautiful set of serving dishes, chopsticks and cups. And whenever you became bored with your outfit or your dishes you could put them in the melting pot of the gloop machine ready to be made into something new.

Well the future is here. Adrian Bowyer and his team at the University of Bath have been working on a machine that can create 3-D objects with a view to the machine replicating itself. And what an interesting philosophical conundrum that creates. The machine, which they call a RepRap (Replicating Rapid-prototyper) machine is well on the way to re-creating itself. And en route the machine has made a number of other items, children’s shoes, a door handle, a coat hook. This may not seem much, but think of the slow, painful, crude output of the first printer attached to a computer and compare that to the speed and superb quality of the output from the latest colour printers. Look at the products the RepRap machine can produce now and imagine what it will be able to produce in twenty years time. Amazing!


Blogger vivien said...

a few years ago I was invited to a tour of a department at Loughborough University working on just this!

A sculptor worked with a joystick type thing and was able to change the consistency of the block onscreen to behave like wood or clay or stone as she went, the finished sculpture was then sent to a machine in exactly the same way and created in 3D - absolutely mind blowing! they showed samples of intricate mathematical shapes within shapes within intricate shapes (sort of more complex Welsh love spoons)

they also showed us computer graphics that worked rather like Wii does now

a really fascinating day

7/19/2008 3:29 PM  
Blogger Julie Oakley said...

Fascinating Vivien. I imagine one of the challenges will be to find the most versatile 'gloop' so that a greater variety of products can be maunufactured.

7/21/2008 9:25 PM  

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