On Monday, The Pirate Bay announced (thepiratebay.org/blog/203) that it has launched a new category for torrents, 3D printing blue-prints. This is not as ridiculously optimistic as it sounds.
IEEE Spectrum (Magazine of the world’s largest engineering organisation)
Free software such as Autodesk is available for you to make designs with and “push-button connections to online 3-D-printing services, of which there are now dozens, if not hundreds” are already in existence. This year 1000 production-quality 3-D printers will be placed in high schools across the U.S under a federal programme (IEEE).
Admittedly not a great deal is on the Pirate Bay’s page yet except blueprints for a model pirate ship, a 3D Chris Dodd engraved with the AACS Encryption Key, a dildo and a whistle. That is set to change however with databases such as Shapeways and Thingiverse already handling blueprint sharing and printing. Media lawyers have already entered the battlefield with one Shapeways user already having received a cease-and-desist order from movie studio Paramount after creating a 3D replica of a prop.
The potential for 3D printing is not to be sniffed at. The world’s first 3D printed plane flew out of Southhampton University in July, demonstrating that the possibilities really are endless.
Engineers at the University of Southampton have completed the first plane created using nothing but a 3D printer. The method which uses lasers to fabricate powdered metal and plastic was used to build the plane with no help from fasteners. The plane has a two metre wing span and hits a top speed of almost 100 miles an hour. According to the Southampton team this breakthrough in 3D printing could result in radical changes in the way aircraft are built.
“Laser sintering allows the designer to create shapes and structures that would normally involve costly traditional manufacturing techniques. This technology allows a highly-tailored aircraft to be developed from concept to first flight in days. Using conventional materials and manufacturing techniques, such as composites, this would normally take months. Furthermore, because no tooling is required for manufacture, radical changes to the shape and scale of the aircraft can be made with no extra cost.”
As a result of this project the University of Southampton has launched a new Masters course in unmanned autonomous vehicle (UAV) design. (Perhaps my April fools day post may not have been so far off the mark after all).
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