Over the last couple of days there have been a several articles that I’ve read that have made me think “you know, the 21st century, we’re really here aren’t we”.
One of the first that caught my eye was of a new innovation by a gentleman called Jake Evil….I know! Really…he needs to be working from some secret tropical island volcano base doesn’t he. Joking aside Mr Evil (I so wish he had a doctorate) has come up with a great new way of providing a cast for broken bones that doesn’t involve lots of plaster and people writing rude messages in indelible ink.
As in traditional treatments the limb is first x-rayed to determine where the break has occurred. It’s then scanned to create a precise 3D model which can then be used to create a 3D printed lattice from durable plastic that clips in place and exactly fits the patients limb.
The plastic lattice looks very sci-fi. It’s almost honeycomb structure allows plenty of air to the limb preventing any itching and is far easier to clean allowing the patient to shower and wash without having to worry about getting a cast wet. Let’s hope the Cortex Exoskeleton hits our hospitals before any of us break anything!
Another article that caught my eye was the unveiling of a new truck design by Hanover based MAN trucks. MAN have radically veered from the path of traditional truck design by attempting to create a truck with the aerodynamics and overall wind resistance of a car. They report that this will reduce both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by a staggering 25%. In today’s environment with fuel costs so high that’s a significant impact on a company’s bottom line. As we move more and more to other forms of propulsion such as electric this translates into more miles on a single charge.
What caught me about this more than the aerodynamics though was the similarity to the design of this truck and the sci-fi comics I was reading when I was in my teens. I’m constantly challenged now by what a very exciting present we live in and how we are making the future ours. I can’t wait to see what the next 20 years of the 21st century will bring!
3D printing allows you to create a three dimensional object from a two dimensional plan by laying down multiple layers of material to build the object. Sometimes known by the snappy name of Stereolithography, the first 3D printer was produced by 3D systems in 1984. It’s become a valuable tool for design and development with industry being able to rapidly develop prototypes of ideas and test them before going to full development. Recently the technology came to the forefront in people’s minds when Defense Distributed tested and published its design for a 3D printed gun. Regardless of the ethics of this particular piece of design, 3D printing has a huge number of applications ranging from processor manufacture through to medical implants.
So what does this have to do with you and me? In recent years the cost of 3D printers has fallen significantly, you no longer need to be a large company to afford the technology. You can buy the UP! 3D printer on Amazon for just over £1000. However, this still puts it in a price range acceptable to only the most dedicated consumer 3D hobbyist. Where the folks over at Pirate 3D have scored big with the Buccaneer is that it will have a price tag under £300 in the UK. This puts it firmly in the hands of the interested enthusiast.
This technology is inspiring allowing you to run riot with your imagination building all sorts of fantastic creations. However, Pirate 3D’s innovation hasn’t stopped at the cost, the Buccaneer looks great having an almost Apple’esque elegant compact design. Loading of the substrate for building your models is easy, a circular cartridge that fits in the top and feeds through a small hole at the top of the device. Perhaps the smartest innovation though is the software; by creating a design suite that is easy to use and requires no knowledge of complicated computer aided design (CAD) systems, a complete novice can create great looking objects. The design suite will work on either your PC or tablet.
It seems that I’m not the only one excited by this technology, Pirate 3D’s Kickstarter campaign to fund development and commercialization of the Buccaneer 3D Printer has reached just over $850,000 raised of a $100,000 target. For anyone that enjoys tinkering the Buccaneer 3D printer is a valuable addition to the toybox!