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London 3D printer show: A world of pure (plastic) imaginationThe future is made of plastic and is being gradually spat out of a 3D printer. CNET's Luke Westaway took to the floor of London's 3D printer show to examine trinkets, musical instruments, a house, and even replica cat skeletons scanned from mummified...
-Hello, I??m Luke Westaway for CNET reporting from the 3D Printshow in London where some of the most exciting, jaw-dropping, and futuristic tech is being shown off. Let??s take a look. For the uninitiated 3D printer??s work by taking data from a virtual computer design model then building that model slice by slice into an actual object. Items built using this process can be incredibly detailed. And if you print one piece at a time, you can even feature moving parts. Here on show today is some seriously impressive printed models including musical instruments, toys, and even items of clothing. Where do you see this eventually going fashion wise? Do you think in 10 years?? time we??re all gonna be working around wearing plastic clothes and-- and rubber trousers? -I hope-- Oh well, maybe some of us in the streets of London, but I hope not everyone. I think it??s gonna be integrated both in direct 3D manufacturing, so 3D printing, but probably as it??s already being used for something, okay, so we can test the design, you know, see what it looks like, talk about it and then put it into manufacturing. -The flexibility of 3D printing means designers can really go to town. There are loads of very unusual styles on show here I??ve noticed especially when it comes to jewelry. So, you designed this ring, how exactly did you design it? What software did you use? -I used a program called [unk]. It??s an animation program with pregenerated human figures and then from that I shaped the hands, which-- clasping a ball of human hair where I smooth it out, make it more organic, more human rather than ridden with polygons. So, I managed to get it-- to not look so digital I say. This technology isn??t just for hobbyists. It??s even finding a home in Hollywood. Meet Iron Man??s mask and articulated gauntlet. So, tell me about the glove. How exactly has this been made? -So, this is the glove from the second movie from Iron Man II. So, we revisted and tried to change the technique from the first movie. So, we 3D scanned Robert??s hand and then took the design and wrapped around his proportions and came up with all the articulation and then we broke it down and printed it out on an object that was then cleaned up, metal etched, and basically nickel plated and painted from there and fully assembled; and it??s a functioning gauntlet. -Glitz, and glamor aside, there??s plenty of evidence here that 3D printing has scientific applications as well. This incredibly detailed physical model of ancient cat skeleton was created by scanning the animal??s mummified remains. Meanwhile, full 3D body scans like this one give a clear picture of someone??s physical makeup, something that could come in handy when designing prosthetic limbs. So, what is some of the advantages of using 3D printing for prosthetics? -I think it??s the essence of form, fit, and function. Fit because you get a perfect fit from skin to print. Form because you get to restore symmetry for people, which emotionally we find is equally as important as the physical function. And finally, the performance, lightweight, durable, high impact. It allows people to play football, to run, to climb, to really restore meaningful way of life. -So, what??s the future of 3D printing? -Well, amazingly from that I??ve seen, it looks like it could be objects that design themselves. So, if I??m not mistaken, a computer actually designed this object. Is that right? -Yes, this is correct. This is designed without designer interaction. The geometry was created a topology optimization algorithm from a set of load criteria and what happened was that the computer basically decided where to put which element of geometry resulting in a-- a sort of biologically looking component. -A trait shared by this 3D printed concept house, which was also designed by a computer algorithm. So, this thing doesn??t look like any building I??ve ever seen, but you??re saying that this is actually a concept for a house. -Yeah, this is the very first prototype for a completely 3D printed house. Rewrote their own algorithm that is able to arrange material on the-- on almost like a nature. It??s almost creating kind of bone-like structure that is extremely lightweight because it??s-- it??s actually using the same algorithm of nature. It almost-- Yeah, it??s actually almost building itself. -What does that mean for architects in the future? -I mean we are-- we are kind of playing-- playing with the algorithm like curating the algorithm. We??re-- We??re obviously still in charge of-- of the algorithm. It-- It??s not taking over yet. -Yet. -Yet. -If that??s not am omen of the robot apocalypse, I don??t know what is. For more on 3D printing tech, check out CNET and let me know what you would like to see crafted by robots in the comment below. I??m Luke Westaway and this is the 3D Printshow in London.