February 19, 2012

An idea for a 3D Printer that Prints any "Sufficiently" Heat-conducting Metal

OK, material scientists can laugh, but here's the idea that is actually not novel at all.

First, consider the classical experiment, where the feather falls down in a vacuum:

Now, consider the World War 2 era bombings, where planes are flying horizontally and bombs are released at the right moment so that they reach their target according to the simple, Newtonian, mechanics:

In vacuum, there are no aerodynamics to consider and the bomb-dropping calculations are usually a piece of cake to almost any modern computer, so the idea is that in stead of bombs, one may use groups of metal atoms that fall down in a vacuum and have been released from a tip of a metal wire by vaporizing the tip of the wire with lasers. The base of the 3D statue is kept very cool to make sure that the falling atoms stick to the statue in stead of forming a molten "lava-like" mass at the top of the statue. I guess that the metal has to be a really good heat conductor to allow the cooling of the top to take place.

The idea is not novel at all and the reason, why I write this blog post is that the apparent simplicity of it really fascinates me, because unlike many of the other solutions, the metal printer that I described in this blog post, seems simple enough to be a small and very practical hobby project. As a matter of fact, one way to simplify the design is that in stead of a "flying bomber" there is a thick metal plate that forms a "rainy sky". The metal vapor rain droplets might be produced by a laser that acts like a "Hollywood spotlight" that draws separate layers on the "clouds". Or may be, for the sake of precision, to make sure that the laser light is fired perpendicularly onto the "clouds", there might be a bomber that flies under the rain-clouds (the thick metal plate) and it flies so fast that the bomber gets out of the way before the batch of atoms falls to the bomber's height.

Here's a random bunch of references to various 3D printing or otherwise related sites that probably inspired, influenced, me: