Wednesday, August 15, 2007

3D Copier of the Future (1979)

This image appears in the 1979 book Future Cities: Homes and Living into the 21st Century and describes the 3D copier of the future.

See also:
Sea City 2000 (1979)
Future Cities: Homes and Living into the 21st Century (1979)


Unknown said...

These machines have been commercially available for about a decade (though they tend to use polymers cured with UV light, not lasers). Big in rapid-prototyping in particular. Soon they'll be cheap enough to have in the (upper middle class) home.

Anonymous said...

The distinction between these and photocopiers, though, is that the result of a photocopier is "true" -- e.g., dark letters on a white background, typically. Prior to ubiquitous laserprinter use you might argue that the original used ink (e.g., typewriter ribbon) and the copy used carbon powder, but now even that distinction is gone.

In contrast 3-D "copiers" can reproduce an object's shape and texture, but not its component materials -- a gold ring is reproduced as a white or gray polymer, not another gold ring.

Paul M. Cray said...

I remember being disturbed by these machines when I read the book (~1980) and finding the implications of their vaunted properties so difficult to grasp that I excluded them from my personal future history. Now, I just hope that rapid prototypers do prove to be a disruptive technology for the 2010s. We need something.

R Fischer said...

Some currently available machines reproduce surface color. I was just at SIGGRAPH 2007 and was surprised by the number of vendors.

Rapid prototypers may eventually be able to reproduce object qualities using different materials from the original. Consider the range of qualities achievable by adjusting a mix/structure of crystalline carbon and metal in deposition. Make the object arbitrarily hard or heavy, or flexible.

One of the initial issues is that current input scanning is just based on 3D position and color. Scanners will eventually use millimeter wave or other technologies to spectroscopically analyze the surface and probe into it a bit.

Anonymous said...

There was at least one prototype of this kind of 3D "printing" device working back in 1979. It wasn't very high resolution, and produced a shell, not a solid object, but the technology was intriguing.

The inventor was pushing it at the 1979 National Computer Conference in NYC. He didn't have a booth, but whenever he found a promising audience, he made his approach, passed out literature, photos and the like.