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Monday, March 26, 2007

Origami Printers

My background is in physics and so I often scan PhysicsWeb for information, and some interesting things do turn up. This one links to the ability to create 3D models. There are existing methods that let you carve 3D forms out of a material. Messy and expensive. Its done, for example to build models of bottle designs. We have joked about the ability to create 'origami printers' that would create and fold templates of 3D shapes. Here is a step in that direction. I note that this article is original reporting, but where are the links to the original papers? We are on the web here. There is a Quicktime movie of an example, which seems to indicate this is still in an early state.

"Chemical origami" shrinks 2D discs into 3D objects

Physicists in Israel have invented a neat method of making elaborate 3D structures from flat 2D discs. The trick is to pre-treat a gel disc half the size of a beer coaster with a monomer solution "blueprint" that selectively shrinks when heated. The technique, which cleverly demonstrates the link between 2D and 3D geometry, could be used by engineers to create self-assembling prototypes (Science 315 1116).

It's quite easy to see how simple 3D objects could be created using the principle. For example, if the solution were only applied to the edges, only they would shrink when heated, and the disc would form a bowl-shaped object. But more complex "chemical origami" would need an intricate application pattern, and it is difficult to predict 2D patterns that will accurately translate into the 3D objects desired. ..."

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