Wednesday, 22 April 2015

3D printing

Conversazione 2: One of the most enthralling exhibits in the Saltaire Conversazione was this 'Maker Bot' - a 3D printing machine. I have, of course, heard about these but it's the first time I have ever seen one. It melts plastic and then extrudes it through a print head as a very fine thread, which it then builds up, layer upon layer, into an object. In this case it was making a nut and bolt, which fitted together perfectly and could easily be screwed and unscrewed. There were also little chains and a circular 'bracelet' that it had made. What surprised me was the intricacy of the layered plastic; it actually looked quite attractive with a sort of textured surface. Of course, these things are as yet in their infancy but I can imagine this may in future be as commonplace as all our other gadgets. The possibilities seem quite exciting.

It left me reflecting how the changes seen by, for example, my grandparents are matched if not surpassed by the developments I have seen in my lifetime. I can vividly recall my father (who was a telephone engineer) talking about the far-off future when we might be able to see each other as well as talk to one another on the phone. Fast-forward relatively few years really and I regularly have 'Facetime' calls with my daughter and granddaughters. Frankly, it still amazes me that I can also see, almost instantly, photos and videos of what they are doing at that moment hundreds of miles away.

Perhaps THE most astonishing photo (and I am sure my grandmother would sit up in her grave if she knew!) was the one I received last year from my daughter showing her 20 week scan. Imagine that... a photo of a tiny foetus (upturned nose and miniature hand, waving and readily visible) still well tucked up inside her mum, in a hospital in London, beamed direct to Gran in Yorkshire within minutes! I still can't quite grasp that, it seems little short of miraculous.


  1. I remember seeing a fax for the first time and thinking how magical it was - and now you hardly see them at all!

  2. Oh, there's so much to like about our times -- along with plenty to be worried about. But likely it's always been thus.

  3. I can't quite see the point of 3D printing. Something which I also said about e-mail, as I remember!

  4. Excellent discussion of stuff that kind of excites me and kind of terrifies me. I wonder if we humans are going to be needed in the near future.


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