What if you could play Scooby-Doo in 3-D?
Sounds like a silly idea, right?
Well, it turns out that the ability to play Scoopies in 3d has been around for years, but the technology has been lacking.
That’s because the 3-d effects involved in Scooby and the gang are still pretty limited.
But now a team of scientists has taken a different approach.
In a paper published in the journal Science Advances, researchers from MIT and the University of Cambridge describe how they have developed a way to manipulate and modify the shapes of existing 3-mesh 3-dimensional objects.
It’s called 3-material design, and it uses a technique called holographic printing.
The MIT team, led by Nicholas Lees, an assistant professor in the MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering, and graduate student Michael Zegers, developed this technology to make a 3-piece puzzle using the shape of an existing 3D object.
3-Material Design allows objects to be 3-shaped by printing them on different layers of a 3D material.
For example, the MIT team printed a square puzzle with a triangular shape on one layer of polymer, and a square with a rectangular shape on another layer of polymers.
The researchers then coated the pieces of polymer with a layer of dye that changes their shape to a different shape when the dye dries.
The result is a 3d puzzle with three parts—a rectangular part, a triangular part, and an octagonal part.
A 3-metre-wide, 12-metres long polyhedron The team then printed the shape into the polyester and polyurethane, and then added some more dye.
The three parts were then glued together to form a larger shape.
The finished shape was 12 metres long.
“We could have made this thing three metres long, and still used three different layers for the 3d printed parts,” Lees says.
“Instead, we printed a rectangular part and a triangular one.”
The team added a new layer of ink to the polymer that allows it to move around inside the polyurethalene, creating a more robust, stable shape.
3D Printing in the Cloud With the new technology, the team printed the shapes out on their own equipment, then uploaded them to the cloud.
That way, the printer can work 24 hours a day.
The printed shapes then went into a system called the 3DPrinting system.
This software allows 3-Meter-D printers to print multiple objects at once, and also allows the printer to print different parts.
“For a long time, 3D printing has been only available to large companies,” Leed says.
Now, this can be done by anyone.
The software is also able to automatically rotate and scale the 3Meter pieces as they are printed, and even print parts that are already in the printer, like the triangle and octagon.
3Meters-D printed 3D Cube The MIT 3-metal printing system has several advantages over traditional 3-shape printing.
For one, it can print smaller objects in smaller volumes.
“In the past, we’ve used very large volumes for 3D printed parts, and we’ve never been able to print enough for the shapes we wanted,” Leese says.
The 3Mere printed three-dimensional cube is just one example of a cube that has been printed out using this technology.
“The whole idea is to print a cube out of 3D materials that are very durable and very strong,” Les says.
3DFunction The MIT paper also describes how the researchers were able to make the printed shapes of the triangular and octagonal parts by combining 3D-printed parts and 3D parts made with plastic resin.
3Toys in 3Ds “This is really a step in the right direction, and one that I think could help us make the plastic parts much stronger and to get 3D printers moving,” Zeger says.
Zegert, for one, is excited by the possibilities.
“It’s a really exciting time for 3-Shape Printing.
The ability to print large volumes of material quickly, easily and cheaply is becoming more common,” he says.
For now, though, 3-Metal printers are mainly used for small objects like 3D printable toys.
But the research team is working on the next step—printing 3-scale objects that could be used in big-scale manufacturing, like ships or tanks.
“If you’re looking at big industrial processes, this is a great way to scale up to something like a ship or tank,” Ziegert says.