SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – It sounds like the ultimate do-it-yourself project: the print-your-own-home.
In place of bricks and mortar and the need for a construction crew, a customisable building plan which transforms itself from computer screen graphics into a real-world abode thanks to the latest in 3D printing technology.
That dream is still beyond our reach, but several teams of architects across the globe are engaged in efforts to take a major step towards it by creating the world's first 3D-printed homes.
Amsterdam-based Dus Architects is one of the firms involved - it plans to print a canal house in the Dutch capital.
It's worth taking a moment to reflect on that premise; the machine will not modestly 3D-print the usual cup, curtain ring or piece of jewellery, but an actual building.
The printer that will make this possible - the KamerMaker - is a marvel in itself. The name translates from Dutch as "room-maker".
With a shiny metallic exterior, built from the carcass of a shipping container, it is 6m (19ft 8in) tall and would easily fill the average sitting room.
Using different types of plastics and wood fibres, the device takes computer-drawn plans and uses them to make first the building's exterior walls, then the ceilings and other parts of individual rooms and then finally its furniture.
The pieces will be assembled on site like a huge jigsaw with parts attached to each other thanks to some of their edges having being shaped like giant Lego pieces, and the use of steel cabling to "sew" the elements together.
Each part is created using a layer-by-layer process in which solid objects take shape by printing thin "slices" of the construction materials, one level at a time, which bind together.
When I interviewed the architects involved - Hedwig Heinsman and Hans Vermeulen - for the BBC World Service's Click - I was able to stand comfortably with them inside the machine.
Looking across I could see the device's huge print head was connected to a flexible tube running down from the ceiling through which it could pour the heated plasticised material that will ultimately form the house's structure.
As with its smaller counterparts, the print head moves firstly horizontally and then vertically building up salami slices of the 3D object.
The enormous contraption will be able to fabricate individual life-sized rooms in one print session.
I was shown a rosette window frame that had recently been "printed'" as a demonstration.
The young architects were visibly excited. Architecture is normally a slow and painstaking discipline. After graduation their first conventional building, from commission to execution, was six years in the making. This 3D project should be concluded in a fraction of that time.
By the end of this year the fully printed facade of the building will be erected, though it will be several more years before the project is completed.
"We are makers at heart and a 3D printer offers us a DIY kit," says Ms Heinsman.
Mr Vermeulen adds he believes his industry is "at the forefront of new industrial revolution".
Their firm has formed a collective that includes designers and computer scientists who are sharing their expertise and drawing on open-source computer tools to build this canal house.
The 3D printer stands like a work of modern sculpture on a grassy patch outside the collective's slightly raffish offices.
It's not just that it would it be too big to fit inside their offices, the team wants the public to be able to see the virtuosity of this 3D printer in action.
They also have a more regular-sized 3D printer inside their offices which is used to build doll's house-sized architectural models of the canal house on a scale of 1:20. Critically, the instructions for building these small versions are from the same computer files that the architects have designed for the actual house.
The canal house will be built over time from the bottom up.
Ms Heinsman says you might notice a change in the aesthetic of the building as your eyes travel up it.
1:20 scale models were built from the computer blueprints to help optimise the design
"The top part of the facade will be the most beautifully ornamented because by then we will have perfected our knowledge of how the printer works," she explains.
It is unlikely that the finished KamerMaker 3D-printed house will be built as cheaply as conventional canal houses which are mass-produced by developers. But the architects are treating it as an experiment which provides a proof of concept and proof of the unbound limits of 3D printing.
It may seem like science fiction or the kind of fantastical vanity project expected of a millionaire, but this is really a visionary concept of idealistic but level-headed architects operating with modest budgets, whose focus is on social housing.
Developers may not be quaking in their boots just now but 3D printing has the potential to disrupt construction and the very look of our towns and cities.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) I have a stripy animal on my mantelpiece which is a 3D printed model of a drawing that my seven-year-old daughter made for me.
There is some dispute about what it is - the original artists claims it is an elephant while the firm that made it described it as a pig - but there is no dispute about how treasured it will be.
It was created by Crayon Creatures, a Barcelona-based firm which offers to turn children's pictures into solid objects. Customers need only send, scan or email their treasured scrawls.
It is a lovely example of the kind of thing that 3D printing can make a reality and something unimaginable just a few years ago.
Since 3D printing hit the market and machines such as MakerBot made it affordable for ordinary people, there has been no end of hype about what is will achieve.
It will transform manufacturing as we all run off trainers, furniture, and objet d'art at home rather than go to the shops.
It will hail the next industrial revolution as the concept of mass-production is rendered obsolete.
But the reality is not quite the same, says 3D printing expert Joris Peels.
"The technology hasn't necessarily been overhyped but there is an element of 3D printer makers over-claiming in order to sell their devices," he said.
"The press has mixed up the capabilities of an industrial machine with what a desktop can do."
While industrialised 3D printing has been around for decades, printing in a variety of materials including ceramics, metal and rubber, the desktop versions are far more limited.
They have a long way to go before they can churn out consumer desirables in the same way and even when they are fit for purpose, people may not use them.
"Even if the perfect intuitive 3D modelling application were available for free then still most people would sit idle, staring at the ideal 3D printing app and the ideal 3D printer unable to come up with anything to make," said Mr Peels.
That is down to a basic lack of creativity, he thinks.
"Children make a lot of things but as we hit our teens we make less and we start to notice that consumer products are prettier. We become afraid of designing. We hit that blank canvas problem and think 'what am I going to make?' We are basically very lazy creatures."
Mr Peels was so convinced that the future of 3D printing lay with children that he designed a prototype child-friendly printer named Origo which he hoped to retail for around $800 (£524).
It was hailed by some headline writers as "the last toy your child will ever need".
The project had investor cash but two years on the project has been abandoned.
"Basically I was unable to secure enough funding. It was heartbreaking to walk away from it," he said.
Crayon Creatures has got around the blank canvas problem by letting the children do the designing while appealing to parents' innate fascination with their own children's drawings, however bad.
Founder Bernat Cunat admits that sometimes he has to check with the client what the drawing is actually of and which way up it goes.
He himself was inspired by his own five-year-old daughter, who noticed him playing around with designs on his own home 3D printer.
"She asked me if I could print one of her drawings and so I did. She was really happy with the design.
"I showed it to family and friends and started thinking that there was a chance that other people would like it too."
He got the website up and running within a matter of weeks and since going live in January, with no advertising or marketing, has shipped figurines to countries all around the world.
For him, 3D printing is incidental.
"Obviously it couldn't be done without 3D printing but the fact that it is 3D printed doesn't really matter.
"A lot of the stuff being made currently seems to be about justifying the technology but there are a lot of my clients who don't even know how their objects are made," he said.
Consumer goods growing
Other firms are cottoning on to a market for 3D printed goods. Belgian giant Materialise previously specialised in industrial 3D printing but now also has an online store to showcase some of the possibilities for the home.
Autodesk also used to specialise in industrial-scale CAD (computer-aided design) software but now has a consumer division offering those with home printers a range of blueprints.
"It removes the complexity from design and means people don't have to start with a blank slate," said LeeAnn Manon, senior product marketing manager at Autodesk.
She envisages a future where shops as well as homes will increasingly offer 3D printing as an option, to allow consumers to help customise products
Among its community of users, Autodesk has found that a lot of home 3D printers are being used for DIY rather than product design.
"Lots of people are using their 3D printers for repairs. For example I have some drapes that rely on a plastic bracket that has broken, so I am going to print a replacement," said Ms Manon.
A 3D printer seems like something of an over-engineered solution to a broken piece of plastic so does she think that 3D printers will ever become as ubiquitous as other household essentials such as the microwave?
"I think it will... but what they will be used for is still undefined. Let's not forget that 30 years ago people asked why they would need a desktop computer in their homes," said Ms Manon.
Mr Peels, on the other hand, is convinced that home 3D printers will remain the preserve of a tiny minority of "passionate makers" for a while to come.
Either way, the possibilities are likely to surprise us. After all who would have predicted ten years ago that we could unpin our children's' drawings from our fridges and put them on our mantelpieces as ornaments?
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Most of us are losing our hearing for some reason or another, either to poorly distributed sound from cheap earbuds or old age. Millennials seem to be destined to be shouting to hear each other in just a few short decades (if they aren't already). While most of us are interested in noise cancelling headwear for the airplane or subway, advancements in customized audio tech could improve a number of different markets from field equipment for military personnel to custom headphones.
Born out of the labs at MIT, Lantos Technologies formed in 2009 and developed a way to 3D map the ear canal. We've seen a lot of 3D scanning equipment recently, but in contrast to projects like the Photon that are fuzzy on the actual application, the ability to visualize the ear canal is an innovation likely to be a huge leap not only for audiologists, but designers of audio gear and medical equipment alike.
The world's first Intra-Aural 3D scan system uses the "intensity measurement of two different wavelength bands of fluorescent light as they travel through an absorbing medium, capturing images and stictching them together with elegant algorithms, the system generates a highly accurate 3D map."
Essentially, the hand-held device has a probe that goes into the ear canal, fills with a liquid and then takes a series of photos that are combined to create the 3D model—all in less than 60 seconds. The ear scan raises a few thoughts: first, its sort of ugly in there, second, this could be huge for customized audio equipment. You also have to wonder, if modeling the interior of the ear canal is now possible, advancements in 3D mapping must have a myriad of other medical applications. Lantos recently received its clearance from the FDA to market the scanning system later this year in the United States.
So...what are we going to 3D scan next? Can someone please design a solution to those horrible impressions at the dentist?-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – You've heard of 3-D printing, the process of using a specialized printer to create real-world objects from computer models. Now there's something new on the horizon that could revolutionize this burgeoning technology: 4-D printing.
At TED 2013, senior fellow Skylar Tibbits sat down with CNN Ideas to further explain this mysterious fourth dimension in printing technology. He also provided us with visual examples from his Self-Assembly Lab at MIT. See how it all works in the video above.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – 3D phones fizzled out pretty quickly but some people won’t give up on the dream. Temasek Polytechnic and IMRE from Singapore offer a special type of screen protector that turns a regular mobile phone or tablet screen into a 3D display, regardless of its platform.
It’s based on the old lenticular glasses-free tech, but modernized with nanotechnology. The team behind the 3D screen protector is also developing tools for making 3D games and making 2D images 3D (your regular 2D camera won’t magically grow a third dimension).
The protector works in both portrait and landscape modes and should be compatible with any size screen. It is only 0.1mm thick too, so it doesn’t add unnecessary bulk. “Screen protector” might be a bit misleading though – that’s what the team that created it calls it and that’s what it looks like, but I can’t see any claims that it will protect your screen against damage.
The tech will be licensed to companies looking to drive up 3D display adoption while still relying on the current user base with plain 2D screens. Still, the question is “Is anyone interested?” Seeing how neither LG nor HTC are following up on their 3D efforts, I kind of doubt it.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –A new invisibility cloak is just micrometers thick and can hide 3D objects from microwaves in their natural environment, in all directions, and from all of the observers’ positions.
For the study, which is published in the New Journal of Physics, the researchers used a new, ultrathin layer called a “metascreen.”
The metascreen cloak was made by attaching thin strips of copper tape to a flexible polycarbonate film, which is a fraction of a millimeter thick, in a fishnet design.
It was used to cloak an 18 cm cylindrical rod from microwaves and showed optimal functionality when the microwaves were at a frequency of 3.6 GHz and over a moderately broad bandwidth.
The researchers also predict that because of the inherent conformability of the metascreen and the robustness of the proposed cloaking technique, oddly shaped and asymmetrical objects can be cloaked with the same principles.
Objects are detected when waves—whether they are sound, light, X-rays, or microwaves—rebound off their surfaces. The reason we see objects is because light rays bounce off their surfaces toward our eyes, and our eyes are able to process the information.
Unlike previous cloaking studies that have used metamaterials to divert, or bend, the incoming waves around an object, this new method, which the researchers dub “mantle cloaking,” uses an ultrathin metallic metascreen to cancel out the waves as they are scattered off the cloaked object.
“When the scattered fields from the cloak and the object interfere, they cancel each other out, and the overall effect is transparency and invisibility at all angles of observation,” says Andrea Alú, a co-author and an assistant professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Texas at Austin.
“The advantages of the mantle cloaking over existing techniques are its conformability, ease of manufacturing, and improved bandwidth,” Alú says. “We have shown that you don’t need a bulk metamaterial to cancel the scattering from an object—a simple patterned surface that is conformal to the object may be sufficient and, in many regards, even better than a bulk metamaterial.”
Last year, the same researchers were the first to successfully cloak a 3D object—described in another paper published in New Journal of Physics—using a method called “plasmonic cloaking,” which used more bulky materials to cancel out the scattering of waves.
Moving forward, one of the key challenges for the researchers will be to use “mantle cloaking” to hide an object from visible light.
“In principle this technique could also be used to cloak light. In fact, metascreens are easier to realize at visible frequencies than bulk metamaterials, and this concept could put us closer to a practical realization,” Alú says.
“However, the size of the objects that can be efficiently cloaked with this method scales with the wavelength of operation, so when applied to optical frequencies, we may be able to efficiently stop the scattering of micrometer-sized objects.
“Still,” Alú says, “we have envisioned other exciting applications using the mantle cloak and visible light, such as realizing optical nanotags and nanoswitches and noninvasive sensing devices, which may provide several benefits for biomedical and optical instrumentation.”-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- A couple of months ago, Dutch architect Janjaap Ruijssenaars announced that he was building a curvy, loopy and for some reason, largely see-through building, to be made with the help of Enrico Dini’s D-Shape 3D printer. The project would cost up to 5 million euros ($6.4 million) and be completed in 2014.
Another group quickly piped up, declaring that a similar project they were working on would be done even faster and cheaper. London-based Softkill Design intends to fabricate a web-like building and what’s more, it says it will need just three weeks to print the structure—and only a single day to assemble it, which it plans to do at some point later this year.
This month, another Dutch company jumped into the fray. DUS Architects plans to use a 20-ft-tall 3D printer to build a house along an Amsterdam canal. It’s also going to do it by the end of the year. Take that, Ruijssenaars.
3d house-printing—it certainly sounds like a brilliant idea. Why bother hiring masons and carpenters and plumbers when you can buy a machine and print out your own abode? Goodbye, apartment blocks. Hello, homemade homes.
But what does this 3d house-printing actually mean? And if it’s so groovy, how come no one has done it yet?
How it works
First, the basics: Simply put, 3D printing works through a process of layering. The printer reads a file, much as a deskjet would read an image, and then translates that into a physical object the way your printer spits out ink on a page—one strip at a time.
The “ink” in a 3D printer is a material—often plastic—that shoots out of a nozzle and onto a platform. If a printer is making a coffee mug, for instance, it will gradually layer up a ring until it reaches the top. You could call it a bottom-up process.
But you would never want to print a coffee mug, not even a silly one. For the moment, the cool thing about the technology is that it’s better suited to protoyping shapes rather than reproducing existing ones. Plus, gift shops the world over have shown us that novelty mugs are always a bad idea.
Say you were a design enthusiast, though, and wanted to make a chair in an unconventional form. With a 3D printer, that would cost the same to produce as the sort of vanilla chairs you pick up at Ikea. That’s because 3D printers don’t constrain the imagination with mundane restrictions like molds, human labor or cost. If you can dream it—and get a design for it—you can print it. It gives designers the freedom to imagine all sorts of kooky things in much the same way that advances in printing equipment freed graphic artists from the tyranny of Things get tricky when it comes to large-scale projects, such as houses. The most obvious problem is one of scale. Just as you cannot print a billboard on a laserjet that can, at most, accept A3 sheets, you can’t print a entire house on existing 3D printers.
Building a bigger printer is not the answer. A skyscraper would require a machine that is bigger than it. And as printers get bigger, there is a trade-off between resolution and speed, says Steven Keating, a graduate student who works on large-scale 3D printing with Neri Oxman, an architect, designer and academic in theMediated Matter group of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab.
“You’re printing in finite-size layers,” Keating tells Quartz. “Imagine doing it with toothpaste. The thickness of that toothpaste is basically the resolution of your product. Every time you make that layer smaller, thinner, you increase the time it takes.”
Ruijssenaars is getting around these problems by building in bits and then putting them together on-site. Keating and Oxman have something similar in mind for their own 3D-printed building project. Like Ruijssenaars, they will print shells to later be filled in with concrete on the inside and be sanded down to look finished on the outside.
Softkill disapproves of these methods, dismissing concrete-filled structures as impure applications of 3D printing. While its house will also be printed in parts and assembled later, the company says it will be entirely 3D-printed with a light, plastic material. Its web-like configuration will make it strong enough to bear loads.
Printing with swarms
There are other ideas too. The MIT group is experimenting with fitting its printer on a truck to increase its footprint. It is also looking into using “swarms” of 3D printers to work on different bits of a structure.
But if it’s so much trouble, why bother printing houses when building them with lumber or bricks and mortar has served humanity’s needs for hundreds of years? There are three key benefits. The first is that 3D printing is cheaper. As a design becomes more complex, the cost of 3D printing drops substantially relative to traditional building methods.
It is also safer for both the people building the houses and for those living in them. Structures with curves are stronger. Pillars with greater density towards their edges are sturdier. And fewer construction workers means fewer injuries and deaths (though it also means fewer jobs).
But perhaps the best part about 3D-printing houses is that it lets architects dream up all sorts of fantastic structures that would be either too difficult or too expensive to make with conventional methods. A 3D-printed house wouldn’t need to conform to our traditional ideas of what a home looks like (which makes DUS Architects’ design look rather unadventurous). Indeed, that would be to miss the point.
It’s what architects like Frank Gehry and Le Corbusier first imagined possible with concrete, except that 3D printing has the potential to be several orders of magnitude cheaper, easier and more efficient.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Typical attempts at a glasses-free 3D display have trouble with viewing angles; we're all too familiar with having to sit in a sweet spot to get the effect. HP Labs might have just solved this last problem with a prototype 3D LCD that would better accommodate the real world. The display's backlight has nanopatterned grooves that send blue, green and red in multiple directions, letting the LCD show only the light that would be seen from a given viewpoint. Those positions are set in stone, but they're both abundant (200 for photos, 64 for video) and can spread across a wide 180-degree viewing arc. At a thickness of as little as half a millimeter, a production LCD could easily be thin enough for a mobile device, too. The catch isn't so much the screen as the content. Producers need an image for every possible viewpoint, which could create a fair share of logistical problems: even though footage wouldn't necessarily require 200 cameras, it could limit fully immersive 3D to computer-generated visuals or else consume a massive amount of bandwidth. If those are the biggest barriers, though, we're still that much closer to the holographic smartphone we've always wanted.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Samsung has filed for a pair of patents regarding 3D Video/Image capturing and a new Panorama Camera System. Samsung mainly filed for a patent of its Trademark Logo for a 3D Camera and a patent that covers a new panoramic camera lens, the new Panorama Camera system would improve image quality and some special lens specific features. This is a coincidence or the Galaxy S IV could feature a camera sensor capable of capturing 3D Videos and 3D Images.
These patents could actually be for the next generation Galaxy Camera or a Tablet or a high-end standalone camera and the list goes on and on, there are endless possibilities. But we have noticed one thing, the number “4″ in Samsung Galaxy S IV’s teaser poster is in 3D which could mean that the Galaxy S IV could actually use these technologies. We will know everything very soon as Samsung will be annoucing the Galaxy S IV on March 14th in New York, USA.
The Galaxy S IV is rumoured to feature an Exynos 5 (5410) Octa CPU, PowerVR SGX 544MP3 GPU, 4.99″ Full HD AMOLED Display, 2GB of RAM, 13 Megapixel Rear facing Camera capable of shooting 1080p Full HD Videos at 30FPS, 2 Megapixel front facing camera capable of shooting 1080p HD Videos and run Android 4.2 Jelly Bean out of the box.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –Open source commercial space company DIYROCKETS and 3D-modeling software company Sunglass have announced today that they’ve partnered in a competition for people to design 3-D printable rocket engines. The competition, which takes off today at SxSW, is for budding rocket scientists to design open source rocket engines capable to cheaply delivering small payloads into low Earth orbit.
This is the first in a series of competitions that the two companies have planned for a number of commercial space applications ranging from propulsion to medical sensors. Sunglass will be giving away $10,000 in prizes to the winning teams. Additionally, 3D printing company Shapeways will be donating $500 to 3D print the top two winning rocket engines.
“The space industry is advancing very quickly right now,” Darlene Damm, co-CEO of DIYROCKETS told me. “This is due to efforts such as the XPrize and NASA several years ago, as well as there are many new big space companies coming online like SpaceX. We were inspired to create DIYROCKETS to provide everyone a way to become involved in the space industry and explore it and, through open sourcing and crowd sourcing dramatically lower the costs of space exploration by unlocking talent from around the world as has never been possible before.”
Final designs will be due on June 1, 2013 and the winners will be announced on July 1. The judging panel hasn’t been finalized, but it includes Dean Kamen, the President of DEKA Research & Development Corporation and inventor of a number of technological products, including the Segway.
Additionally, the teams won’t only be competing for prizes – they’ll be providing a launching point for talking about ideal designs for 3D printed rocket engines. That’s because those designs will be open to the community.
“Registering for the competition involves agreeing to make your designs public and open source,” Damm said. “However, the public will not have access to the actual 3D files themselves. They will be able to view and comment on these via Sunglass, but the actual files will be sole property of the designer who uploaded it unless they choose to share it with someone else.”
“Our goal at Sunglass is to help take the next amazing idea to production faster through global collaboration,” Kaustuv DeBiswas, co-founder and CEO of Sunglass said in a statement. “By joining forces with DIYROCKETS and Shapeways for the 3D Rocket Engine Design Challenge, we will be able to see a preview of the incredible impact that 3D printing and cloud collaboration will have in advancing aerospace technology.”-www.shfaqna.com/English