3D Printing, Minority Report Style

At the “IF … Innovation Festival KortrijkDries Verbruggen demonstrated his virtual pottery wheel1 and what appears to be a RepRap Darwin2 with a clay extruder to create physical models of virtually designed pots.  This video is just so brilliant! interview from Unfold on Vimeo.

Besides the super awesome Minority Report style virtual display design interface which puts Sketchup to shame, I love that the pottery wheel is basically a perfect analogy for the design “limitations” of a MakerBot.  (I say limitations because it turns out the “45 degree rule” is more of what you call “guidelines”)3

Sometimes when people send me design files to print they contain overhangs that are totally unprintable without a support structures.  For someone who hasn’t actually used a MakerBot-style 3D printer it takes a few tries to really “get” how it forms models.

Verbruggen’s virtual pottery wheel appears to strictly apply to the “virtual clay” whatever impression you make upon it – allowing you to make pots that aren’t printable.4  However, there’s no reason why the virtual display couldn’t make use of a simple physics engine to have unsupported clay structures fall – just as real clay would on a real pottery wheel.  I have a feeling interacting with the object as it is being formed and receiving immediate feedback if there’s a structural defect is the kind of thing people would just “get” intuitively.

  1. It appears to use a green laser as a 3D scanner to detect the position of your hand and apply an equivalent force on the virtual clay. []
  2. The Godfather of the MakerBot []
  3. Thank you Captain Barbosa! []
  4. You can see several such models projected on the wall behind him. []
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