Freesteel Blog » 3D printing Tuebingen

3D printing Tuebingen

Thursday, January 10th, 2008 at 7:15 pm Written by:

While the coolest people on the internet carp on about 3D printing for figurines and candy, some people get on with it…




The glove box is to give it a good washing. Because it’s not possible to levitate parts of the model above the base, it’s necessary to lay down support material under the over-hangs. In this case it’s a different type of plastic whose residue can be washed off after it is peeled.

These models are for use in some of Becka’s haptic psychology experiments. To the extent that you can identify objects by their shape when you fondle them with your fingers, suggests how you might represent them in your brain. After all, it’s not surprising you can recognize a small horse in a photograph, because often the animal stands far away and doesn’t occupy much area on your retina. However, if you can recognize it’s a horse from a piece of plastic in the palm of your hand that is in no way similar to the size of a horse, then that tells you something else.

While in Tuebingen I did get a chance to witness the most outrageous machine ever, which is being built in this room of the Cyberneum, next to the other room with the big shiny robot arm that seems to serve no other purpose than to fling people around. (I seem to remember some discussion over how to program that robot to make sure that it could never move through a position where it would mangle the human against itself.)

What was being built was a 2-way conveyor belt.

Sadly, I didn’t have my camera with me. But if you can imagine a ten metre long powerful conveyor belt that’s strong enough for a man to walk on, and then stack about 50 of them side by side on rails so the whole chain can wrap round underneath, you have the picture. It’s ridiculous; there has to be a better way of doing it (they tried using a floor composed of ball-bearings, but there was too much friction).

So, that’s the state of Virtual Reality technology today. It’s worth doing it once, just to see if it can work. But all those cyberpunk lost-in-VR SF stories are now looking as quaint as the let’s travel to the Moon stories did when the first thirty storey high Saturn V rocket rolled out onto the launch pad. Since then, gravity has gotten no less, and the energy density of liquid hydrogen has gotten no more, so the reaction is still valid even if there are idiots who forget it.

2 Comments

  • 1. Freesteel » Blog Ar&hellip replies at 6th March 2008, 7:13 pm :

    […] he slides are available here. (I happened to be in Germany for the month while my partner printed a load of 3D objects to use for her haptic psychology experiments. That […]

  • 2. Freesteel&hellip replies at 22nd July 2008, 3:03 pm :

    […] you with well-crafted press-releases, she’ll be at the ECVP 2008 in Utrecht showing off her haptic […]

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