Burlington, MA —The next time your office runs out of coffee cups, you could, in theory, print yourself a new one using stereo lithography. It's been around a while. But for those of you who find seasonal Dixie Cups®more appealing than the bland styrofoam look, Z Corp. is about to release a machine that could bring rapid prototyping from monochrome into the wonderful world of color.
You can't eat them anymore, but they sure do look
Their new Z402C 3D Color Printer and software create 3D parts from VRML files. The unit is a bit slower than its black, white, and gray predecessors, but the company is betting people will be willing to wait a few more minutes for color—or just choose the unit's monochrome option. Advantages to multi-colored parts include being able to distinguish stress and temperature distribution in models, and other finite element analysis applications. Molecular modeling comes to mind too.
The material used to make the models has also been improved. A plaster base has replaced the once edible sugar and starch concoction. It's formulated to be three times stronger, allowing delicate parts—like models of injection molded plastic—to be printed and handled, and even mailed. Presently the machine's prototype, which was on display and operating at the recent RPM show, prints in eight colors. But future developments are forecasted to offer as many as six million colors. The unit is expected to be on sale late this summer. "Someday we want to replace the common printer," says Marina Hatsopoulos, CEO of Z Corp. To get you hooked, the company has plans to print one free part for anyone visiting their website with a CAD work-in-progress. Another advance appearing on the horizon: printing materials with elastomeric properties. CAD users may want to draft their holiday wish lists early.
Samsung's Galaxy line of smartphones used to fare quite well in the repairability department, but last year's flagship S5 model took a tumble, scoring a meh-inducing 5/10. Will the newly redesigned S6 lead us back into star-studded territory, or will we sink further into the depths of a repairability black hole?
In 2003, the world contained just over 500 million Internet-connected devices. By 2010, this figure had risen to 12.5 billion connected objects, almost six devices per individual with access to the Internet. Now, as we move into 2015, the number of connected 'things' is expected to reach 25 billion, ultimately edging toward 50 billion by the end of the decade.
NASA engineer Brian Trease studied abroad in Japan as a high school student and used to fold fast-food wrappers into cranes using origami techniques he learned in library books. Inspired by this, he began to imagine that origami could be applied to building spacecraft components, particularly solar panels that could one day send solar power from space to be used on earth.
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