It looks like a miniature shark is sitting in that clear cube. But it’s all an illusion–an illusion that could have a big future.
If you think 3-D printing will change the world, you probably imagine yourself printing objects that work, like organs and furniture. But today’s desktop printers are primarily churning out objects to look at, like self-portraits and plastic gnomes. (Check out theInstagram gallery of MakerBot’s “thingiverse” for more.) For these and other “purely visual” uses, Hong Kong inventor Shawn Frayne has created an alternative that is faster, simpler, and ingenious to the point of appearing magical.
“Purely visually, I think Looking Glass sort of crushes–it will crush–3-D object printing,” says Frayne.
To explain Looking Glass, Frayne met me in a Brooklyn coffee shop with a box full of Looking Glasses. “It’s hypervisual so it should explain itself,” he told me as he placed on the table an assortment of what appeared to be 3-D-printed objects suspended in clear plastic boxes: four lego men, a vase of flowers, a shark. “My pitch is this may look like a toy shark, but in fact there is nothing in here but for ink,” he said.
Ink, on 200 sheets of plastic inside a box he bought online. The process by which this comes to impersonate a shark is what Frayne calls “volumetric printing.” It started with a 3-D design file made for traditional 3-D printing (in this case, by Peter Tan). But instead of creating each layer with extruded plastic, Looking Glass printed them in full color onto 0.3 mm-thick, clear lucite sheets using an inkjet, poster printer. “It’s using 2-D printers for 3-D printing,” says Frayne./
The stack alone creates a 3-D effect, but hampered by something called Fresnel reflection. Essentially, the clear sheets becomes murkier and murkier as the light refracts through less-dense air between the sheets. A vase of flowers produced this way looks like it’s trapped in a thick cloud. “It’s the Han Solo carbonite thing,” says Frayne.
The insight that allowed Frayne and his colleagues at Haddock Inventions to solve this problem came from their years of work in a totally different sector: cleantech. Specifically, it came from solar panels, which often use an “index matching” substance to capture light more efficiently. “Basically it just means you put some sort of substance between two materials so light passes through more easily and have less reflections,” he explains. You replace the air with something that approximates the substance the air sits between. In this case, to mimic the refraction index of the acrylic lucite sheets they found a solution in silicon oil. “It’s a perfect match optically for acrylic,” says Frayne. ”You can think of it as if we melted the whole stack together.”
The result is a representation of a shark that I would swear was a physical shark–until I turned it 90 degrees. Seen from the side, you can see the sides of the sheets, with the ink visible only at angles. “It just disappears,” says Frayne.
That seeming weakness could be reduced with thinner sheets, but it may also be offset by other advantages. While 3-D printing a complicated object can take overnight, the whole process of printing, stacking, vacuuming out the air and pumping in the silicon oil takes Looking Glass less than an hour. “Eventually we can get it down to 30 minutes,” Frayne says.
The Latest on: Looking Glass
- Through the Looking Glass: No. 2 UVA at Wake Forest on January 23, 2018 at 6:27 am
There was plenty to like in No. 2 Virginia’s 59-49 win at Wake Forest on Sunday night and there were things to dislike. Welcome to Through the Looking Glass, my unfiltered, quick-hitting takes on Sunday night’s win by the Wahoos over the Demon Deacons. […]
- Neighbourhood looking glass: 360º automated characterisation of the built environment for neighbourhood effects research on January 15, 2018 at 11:16 pm
Background Neighbourhood quality has been connected with an array of health issues, but neighbourhood research has been limited by the lack of methods to characterise large geographical areas. This study uses innovative computer vision methods and a new ... […]
- What is Looking Glass? Mozilla blasted for secretly slipping mysterious Mr Robot plugin into Firefox on January 15, 2018 at 1:45 pm
Firefox users were furious after they discovered a Mr Robot promotional plugin was installed on their browsers without their consent or knowledge NBCUniversal Firefox users noticed over the weekend that a mysterious extension called "Looking Glass" had ... […]
- Movies, through the looking glass on January 13, 2018 at 10:41 am
The world has viewed India through the colourful lenses of movies. A film festival talks about the changing face of Indian cinema. Pankaj Tripathi and Raghubir Yadav at the screening of Newton. They say art imitates real life, but an addendum to that is ... […]
- Bryan High boys basketball coach looking at a glass half full on January 10, 2018 at 6:47 am
Coach Brent Anderson wasn’t trying to be dramatic, but there was no question he considers this to be an important week for the Bryan County High School boys basketball team. The Redskins are coming off a 70-43 Region 2-2AA loss at Jeff Davis, currently ... […]
- Through the Looking Glass on January 10, 2018 at 6:04 am
A man who was arrested for drunk driving in Brown Deer, Wisc., called a friend to pick him up at the police station. As soon as he got there, the cops arrested him for drunk driving, too. WHEN THE MONKEY SAYS STOP, I STOP: A woman who was approaching an ... […]
- Through the looking glass: Matric Results 2017 on January 9, 2018 at 2:00 pm
The above, in another country or in another reality might have had the nation celebrate from the rooftops that the future was assured with so many young people producing spectacular results indicating a highly literate and numerate young nation. “Once ... […]
- 'Looking Glass' aircraft, a Cold War icon, coming back from the cold as part of SAC Museum restoration on December 31, 2016 at 10:10 pm
If the Looking Glass isn’t the jewel of the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum quite yet, at least the rust is about gone. The museum’s EC-135C jet — popularly known as the “Doomsday Plane” — was one of several “Looking Glass ... […]
- 'Alice Through the Looking Glass' is more blunder than wonder on May 26, 2016 at 11:47 am
“Alice Through the Looking Glass” is a movie for anyone who ever skimmed a passage of Lewis Carroll and thought, “This is great, but it could use a bit more ‘Terminator.’” In Disney’s crass, pointless sequel to its similarly crass, pointless ... […]
- 'Alice Through the Looking Glass' gets Daily News critic mad as a hatter on May 25, 2016 at 10:16 am
With Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway. Go ask Alice - mostly, what happened to her movie. Director: James Bobin. (1:48). PG: Violence. Area theaters. Tweedledum just got tweedledumber. Hugely expensive and extravagantly ... […]
via Google News and Bing News