Friday, 5 October 2012

Disney Researchers embedding illumination into 3D Printed Toys

Many 3D Printed objects are homogeneous, either a single plastic extruded by a fused deposition printer, or a single photo-polymer from a stereolithography printer. That's boring.

While ZCorp printers can print in multiple colors the material used is the same for each color.


Objet have taken this further, allowing up to 14 different materials in a single printed object, e.g. one opaque, one transparent, one rigid, one flexible, etc. Beyond these incredible innovations, 3D printed objects remains largely homogeneous in regard to embedded systems, unless you are prepared to assemble multiple parts - which misses the point!


Some experts claim that one day it might be possible to embed electronics, or other subsystems, in a 3D printed object. We are not there yet

Innovation in the 3D printing space knows no bounds.

Disney is researching how to embed illumination within 3D printed toys, using light pipes down to micron thickness and which can be made to glow in controlled ways. Imagine this: figures with glowing eyes, chess pieces that tell about their position or blocks of plastic that show explosions when light is shone at them.

Disney are envisioning a future world where interactive toys can be printed rather than assembled.

The Disney team used a series of these pipes to funnel light up from the base of a toy demon into its eyes. Engineers could control which bits of the eyes were illuminated in a specific colour, to make the toy appear as if it was rolling its eyeballs, blinking, or showing two small throbbing hearts.

Watch a video of these amazing innovations here:

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