3D Color Printing Brings Math to Life

Today’s blog comes from George Hart of the Museum of Mathematics in NY.

At the Museum of Mathematics, which is opening later this year in New York City, we plan to show visitors that math is a fun, colorful, and creative subject. To that end, we are busy designing cool, hands-on exhibits, and I have used a 3D Systems hi-def color ZPrinter for making physical models of some exhibit ideas. But this blog post stems from another endeavor: Like many museums, we are raising money through a fundraiser dinner. I am very happy to have access to ZPrinter technology for making a series of festive mathematical centerpieces for this event.

3D printing allows the construction of intricate mathematical forms which could not be built by any other technology. The extra dimension of color allows for beautiful centerpieces that catch the eye and highlight mathematical features. Here are three of my favorites from this project:

This sculptural centerpiece has thirty yellow bumps, arranged like the vertices of an icosidodecahedron. But they connect to each other through meandering paths that weave through the interior. It is something of a maze to find a shortest path from one bump to another. Shades of color help highlight the overs and unders of the intricate paths.

This centerpiece is designed with floral elements connected in ways that give an organic impression without looking like any particular flower. Through twelve pentagonal openings, you can see that the interior features sixty 5-fold flower-like forms.

This design is purely geometric in character. A series of arches nest in a geometric series with smaller and smaller elements leading to the center. The geometric idea is based on five cubes, but they’ve undergone nonlinear transformations.

For more information and pictures of other centerpieces from this series, see my website. 

http://www.zcorp.com/en/Solutions/Architecture/spage.aspx
http://www.3dsystems.com

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3D Systems to Add Color with Pending Acquisition of Z Corp.

Monochrone and color-printed 3D models of the Eiffel tower creted in ZPrinter 650 (image courtesy of Z Corp, via its Flickr album).

Just a few months ago, 3D Systems snatched up Alibre, a low-cost CAD package that’s gaining ground among makers and hobbyists. This week, the company signed an agreement to buy Z Corp, a competing 3D printer vendor with color-printing technology.

Among competing rapid prototyping vendors, Z Corp distinguishes itself with machines that can print 3D models in multiple colors — an advantage for those using 3D printing for sales and marketing or those using it to study finite element analysis results. Z Corp also offers a line of 3D scanners — portable, handheld devices that can capture the shape of objects in point clouds.

When the transaction closes, Z Corp’s printers and scanners are expected to bolster 3D Systems’ lineup, which spans from low-cost, hobbyist-friendly models (BotMill, RapMan, ProJet, and V-Flash) to professional, production-capable models (ProJet, iPro, sPro, and VX brands).

The combined product lines from 3D Systems and Z Corp, which used to compete with each other, may offer an opportunity to retire certain overlapping businesses. The pending merger puts pressure on other major players in the rapid prototyping market, dominated by a handful of names (Stratasys and Objet, to name but two).

Initially spawned by the need of design and engineering businesses, 3D printing vendors recently expand into the marker market, fueled by enthusiasts, hobbyists, and craft makers. 3D printed models have become an integral part of the projects and concepts on display at Maker Faire, an annual gathering of the do-it-yourself community.

In addition to rapid prototyping equipment, 3D Systems also offer rapid manufacturing services under its 3Dproparts and Quickparts online portals. 3D Systems’ rival Stratasys offers similar services through its RedEye business division. Design and engineering shops that do not have in-house rapid prototyping facilities tend to rely on service bureaus to create low-volume parts on demand. Some businesses may also enlist a service bureau to produce parts their own in-house system is not equipped to handle (for example, flexible parts made from new materials).

3D Systems is buying not just Z Corp but also Vidar Systems, which makes medical and dental imaging systems. Both are subsidiaries of Contex Group, an imaging systems provider. The sale of Z Corp and Vidar Systems suggests Contex has decided to return to its origin, to focus on large-format scanners.

The price tag for buying Z Corp and Vidar Systems is U.S. $137 million. Announcing the pending acquisitions, 3D Systems explains, “The acquired businesses generated $58 million of revenue for the twelve months ended June 30, 2011, with consolidated gross profit margins of 55%. 3D Systems expects to incur one-time professional M&A and restructuring expenses in the range of $2.7-3.2 million during the fourth quarter of 2011, related primarily to the completion of this transaction, but inclusive of all other acquisition activities and related restructuring costs that are primarily attributable to the Huntsman specialty materials acquisition.”

Z Corp’s handheld scanner (image courtesy of Z Corp).

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Jet – ABS (1.75mm, Clear color Transparent, 1.0kg =2.204lbs) Filament on Spool for 3D Printer MakerBot, RepRap, MakerGear, Ultimaker & Up! – USA

PLA, ABS filaments are the printing supplies for 3D Printers (e.g., RepRap, MakeBot, MakerGear, UP! Printer).

3D printer has been used by designers, engineers and scientists to produce the disposable mechanical products and model, and it is already widely used in health care, education, toys, building, automobile, electronics, and anime field.
If have a 3D printer, this is the place you can get your 3D supplies.

1.75mm & 3mm diameter ABS or PLA. Common colors available. Rare colors can be manufactured upon order.

Fullfilled by Amazon! Ship from USA directly! Quality is guaranteed and return is allowed.

For international buyers: drop the seller a message in case you need international shipping. It can be handled separately.

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