So did they do this before they changed their price structure?
Fractional triangles? What’s 0.279 of a triangle? A little less than a line? Maybe a corner?
Welcome to the 1960s!
This is amazing. It worked!
I still want to make clothing with displays on it that’s this flexible. It is a bit harder to do than making clothing without electronic stuff on it, but this gives me hope.
I print a lot with Shapeways, I shuddered at the thought of what this must have cost. Absolutely brilliant (and beautiful) though, can’t take that away from them at all.
At first I thought they were making a bunch of pieces to be assembled, but it’s actually all one piece and printed as a unit. That’s pretty damn cool. The folding part is really interesting. I’m not sure I can imagine any “practical” applications for this, but the very fact that it advances consumer 3D printing makes it worth the effort.
Expandable personal shelters that could be quickly printed on demand after natural disasters.
Custom-built unfolding splints/casts/braces for field hospitals.
As you said, most current large printed objects are made with many small pieces assembled by hand. The ability to print “large” (volume, not mass) objects in a small printer, already assembled and ready to unfold has a lot of potential applications, mostly I’m thinking construction techniques, like a geodesic dome frame or something.
Split the electronics to smaller, button-sized rigid modules? With the backing fabrics acting as a scaffolding and backplane for the wires? (I know, obvious… )
Those are both interesting examples! I like the shelter idea in particular - it could be made locally in volume, it would be light and compact for easy transportation to the site, and easily put together without need for skilled construction workers. That would solve a lot of problems. Also that makes better use of a rigid material than the dress does.
So-called ‘bricks’ allow for easy manual 3D-printing of shelters, even of multi-level height.
True, true. But bricks are problematic in other ways; first, they are pretty heavy, which makes them expensive to get to a disaster area. Second, to do it right, bricks need to be laid by skilled laborers (especially if going multi-level). Bricks are not good for earthquake-prone areas either, since they tend to fall and hurt people (especially if going multi-level). Finally, and most importantly, most disaster shelters need to be removable and ideally reusable - often they have to sit on land that is not intended to become a permanent settlement, either because it’s privately owned land or because it’s in a country that is only temporarily taking refugees. A 3D printed shelter is something that could be made on site, moved around easily, and when the disaster is over, returned to disaster relief agencies for storage or recycling.
Thought. Hybrid container-shelters. Bring the shelters in place in a standard container, unload, unfold. Use the empty container as another structure on-site (possibly have it prepared for it already with installations/armatures inside). When it’s over, fold the shelters, put them back into the container, move on.
Or possibly unfold the shelters right out from the container, yielding a larger house-like structure connected to the central container. Same trick with nonfoldable structures present in the container can be used then.
You’ve got an interesting notion of “easy” there. Remember that we’re talking about emergency structures that need to be able to go up in a few hours with minimal trained supervision.
The actual comparison point is not brick (or concrete or wood or glass) but tents. (And other recent innovations in emergency housing, e.g. flatpacked cardboard geodesics.) You want something that can compete with a decent pop-up tent in terms of size, cost, stability, strength, ease of erection, and ease of transport to the affected area. (That last one in particular will depend a lot on infrastructure. If you’ve got already got a battery of specialized fabricators in a disaster-resistant location nearby, it’ll be much easier to receive shipments of bulk feedstock granules and filler powder than it would be to ship in hundreds of thousands of pre-printed plastic structures, even if they are folded up tight.)
A 3D printer will not sole the weight problem. And I agree that tents are the better option. For an emergency, move in plastic sheeting and metal tubes or similar. Much faster and cheaper than 3D printing (with electricity and plastic powder from where??).
Well I’d like to see some prototypes - there may be advantages. I’m thinking 3D printer in a shipping container sent to nearby air or sea port where electricity is available. Raw printer material is shipped there as well. Everything is printed on site and then transported locally to the disaster zone. Or like @shaddack said, they could be made abroad and shipped there in containers, with the empty containers designed to be converted to communal kitchens or community centers or something. Anyway, it’s just an idea of where the technology could go.
Years ago (1960s?) Union Carbide ran TV ads showing off their new expanding polyurethane foam:
Half inflate a weather balloon, spray foam all over it, use a chain saw to cut some holes for a pre-hung door and window. Insulated shelter in about 30 minutes…
I like “in motion” video; it sounds like somebody rummaging around in a Lego bin!
/edit: also, that was apparently the first comment made there. It really is a nice sound. I imagine it might get annoying after a while though.
Were they gas proof?
Even if it’s just proof of concept and not being put into production I think that all involved did an amazing job! I love how it was fabricated pre-folded, or wadded up or whatever.
My son had a toy comprised of hinged plastic triangles that could be folded into different shapes when he was young, but they weren’t configured to emulate fabric.