The Information Age is glorious. At no other point in history have humans had such easy access to enormous amounts of information. Movies, books, music, and more are all at our fingertips. With the advent of 3D scanning, we can even experience objects we might otherwise never see, from museums and collections around the world.
The Smithsonian is on top of the digitalization of information. In addition to the massive amount of written material that has been digitized, the museum has added 3D printing to its arsenal, allowing easier examination or “lending” of exhibits. Now, with the new Smithsonian X 3D Collection, users can take a close-up look at history, or even print out replicas to educate and impress. Continue reading
Whether you believe global warming is part of a natural cycle or is the result of human activity, it seems pretty certain at this point that the world is indeed getting warmer. The effects of this warming trend have seen glaciers melt, caused aberrant weather patterns, and raised sea levels. Other effects aren’t quite as obvious.
In addition to global warming, pollution, overfishing, and increased levels of coastal development have had a serious impact on coral reefs. According to the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences (AIMS) around 50% of the Great Barrier Reef has vanished over the last 30 years and the Persian Gulf has suffered similar losses. A project is underway outside Bahrain to replace missing coral reefs with 3D printed reefs. Continue reading
A good chunk of the potential of additive manufacturing (AM) lies with materials. Beyond prototyping, plastic parts only have so many applications. The development of metal AM brought the technology to the attention of companies such as GE and Ford, and governmental entities the likes of the US Navy.
New AM materials are being developed all the time, bringing with them new opportunities for manufacturing. Sometimes, though, AM can breathe new life into existing materials. A project out of Italy called Marble EcoDesign wants to use marble dust created as a byproduct of the marble industry as fuel for a 3D printer. Continue reading
Regardless of its focus, a museum offers more to society than a place where people can gaze at carefully prepared displays. Museums are really centers for education and research, and the displays are as much a side effect of learning as they are the main point. Even if you are just a visitor, a good trip to a museum should leave you enlightened, it should teach you something about the world around you.
As additive manufacturing (AM) enters the mainstream of public consciousness, much work remains in educating the public on how the technology works and what it is capable of producing. Museums are natural partners for this kind of education. The Science Museum in London, England and the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) in New York City have set up exhibits featuring 3D printing. Continue reading