Sunday, March 19, 2006

Ping Fu: Recreating the World in All Its Dimensions

You may have never heard of Ping Fu. But chances are her work has touched you in some way. Fu has spent decades envisioning new uses for computers. Now she thinks she's really on to something: a technology that can scan three-dimensional objects, recreating them first virtually, and then in the real world.

Fu came to American in 1982 and co-founded her company, Geomagic, in 1996. It is headquartered in a non-descript building in North Carolina's Research Triangle Park. The company's products enable designers and engineers to scan a 3-D object, capture the data from the scan and then use it to create highly accurate digital models.

Virtual 3-D images can be inspected, redesigned and tested, and used to manufacture perfect replicas.

Fu says doctors will soon use the technology to custom-make prosthetic joints and other medical devices that fit and function better. And eventually, she predicts, even clothes and shoes will be made-to-order this way. She calls this "mass customization" and says it will make today's mass production obsolete. Stores stacked to the ceiling with blue jeans will seem quaint -- even silly, she says.

[Picture shown is Noveletti soap holder. Geomagic software gives Noveletti the design freedom they need for their unique products.]

NPR : Ping Fu: Recreating the World in All Its Dimensions: "Invisiline "

Thursday, March 16, 2006

DNA Origami

PASADENA, Calif.--In a new development in nanotechnology, a researcher at the California Institute of Technology has devised a way of weaving DNA strands into any desired two-dimensional shape or figure, which he calls "DNA origami."

"The construction of custom DNA origami is so simple that the method should make it much easier for scientists from diverse fields to create and study the complex nanostructures they might want," Paul Rothemund, a senior research fellow, explains.

Reporting in the March 16th issue of Nature, Rothemund describes how long single strands of DNA can be folded back and forth, tracing a mazelike path, to form a scaffold that fills up the outline of any desired shape.

Each of the short DNA strands can act something like a pixel in a computer image, resulting in a shape that can bear a complex pattern, such as words or images. The resulting shapes and patterns are each about 100 nanometers in diameter-or about a thousand times smaller than the diameter of a human hair.

Although Rothemund has hitherto worked on two-dimensional shapes and structures, he says that 3-D assemblies should be no problem. In fact, researchers at other institutions are already using his method to attempt the building of 3-D cages.

Caltech Press Release, 3/15/2006, Dr. Paul Rothemund, Dr. Erik Winfree

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Stratasys Adds Metal Process Machines

Minneapolis, Jan 24 - (Nasdaq: SSYS) Stratasys announced it has reached an agreement with Arcam AB, Gothenburg, Sweden, for Stratasys to be the exclusive North American distributor of Arcam® rapid manufacturing and prototyping systems.

In Arcam’s patented electron-beam melting (EBM) process, called CAD to Metal®, titanium powder is transformed into solid metal parts for either functional prototyping or end-use. The process is currently used in three main industries: aerospace, automobile, and medical implants.

Stratasys, Inc - Rapid Prototyping, CAD Plastic Prototyping, Digital Prototypes, CAD Plastic Prototype Engineering