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Re: 3-D Printing?
Randy, et al:
There are at least two methods of producing 3-D reproductions of
computer models. One method involves molten plastic that is molded slice by
slice (bottom to top) and delicately melted together (as described in your
posting). The other method (featured in Discover magazine about 4-5 months
ago), uses paper pieces and glue and lasers for trimming and 'welding' the
slices together. The paper method is MUCH cheaper than the plastic method -
hopefully it will become cheaper still. (They have used the paper method to
build reconstructions of complex organic molecules and structures, including
viruses. People who use these reconstructions have discovered that hidden
'holes' and grooves, etc.are now visible and help explain interactions with
other molecules and structures that had been puzzling).
If we could somehow afford to fully scan (optically, MRI, and CAT Scan)
each bone of each fossil, then this 3_D technique would come in very handy -
so much so, that 80% of travel to museums to see the real thing would be
eliminated. (Of course, a friend of mine once said that without glue,
paleontology wouldn't exist - refering to many paleontologists' habit of
breaking open specimens [that they were allowed to examine] to check out a
specific feature or character, and then gluing the pieces back together).
From: Randy King <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Thursday, September 03, 1998 6:56 PM
Subject: 3-D Printing?
>The discussions about having to see fossils reminded me of
>an article I read on printing technology. Someone, I can't
>recall who, has developed a process of essentially printing
>in 3-D. You can build a model layer by layer with detail
>on the order of a few millimeters. The resolution is expected
>to improve rapidly. The process uses a liquid that can be
>hardened by adding energy from a laser, thus a layer is added,
>and the object is lowered beneath the surface in preparation
>for the next layer. The raw data is stored in a form similar
>to 2-d images currently as read by the printer.
>The reason this seemed significant, was that one value for it
>was to duplicate fossils. Thus alleviating the need to travel
>to examine the fossil also providing the ability to destructively
>analyze it by shape and form. What you lose is color and content
>and mass. The other drawback was price, each 'printing' was
>estimated at around $2000 at the time.
>Anyway, I was curious if anyone had actually made use of the system
>and/or if there was concern that such a reproduction would not
>be sufficiently useful.