Recently, I was fortunate enough to attend the Imagina conference in Monte Carlo. Imagina 2011 is a long running European 3D conference which, rather than just focus purely on 3D entertainment, also investigates stereoscopic 3D and 3D graphics in other fields such as 3D in healthcare and landscape planning.
In this part one of two Imagina highlight features, we look at a 3D printer that is affordable for the home and NVIDIA’S Pro version of its 3D Vision system.
This was my first visit to Monte Carlo and I was looking forward to getting a flavour of how the other half live. Monaco is the world’s second smallest country. Officially known as a microstate, its 0.75 square mile space is a magnet for the planet’s wealthiest people. High street banks are replaced with their high end equivalents such as Barclays Wealth and HSBC Premier. Port Hercule is a rich man’s yacht parking spot. Every road, bin and patch of grass was carefully manicured and illuminated as if it should be viewed through an exclusive shop window and most of the women were being being stalked by tiny dogs accessorised with pink ribbons that probably had their own private wealth management advisors.
But it was the prices! Wow – I knew Monte Carlo was expensive but Europe’s mecca for Formula 1 Grand Prix enthusiasts ups ‘expensive’ it to the next level. Monte Carlo is one of four administrative areas of Monaco with a population of just 3000. I hope those 3000 people have good jobs when a can of Coke costs 3 Euros, a pint of beer costs about 7 Euros (in the famous Monte Carlo Casino featured in the Bond movie Never Say Never a pint would set you back about 12 Euros!)
I have yet to join the lucrative 3D gravy train so at these prices it was a case of eating picnic style in the hotel room (although I later discovered there was a McDonalds hidden away in the Fontvieille Shopping Centre – as if it was something to be ashamed of!)
Imagina started way back in 1981. It launched as a festival but in 2007 it changed direction to become a market playing host to the sectors of architecture, urbanism, territory planning and industry, media & entertainment.
The venue was the Grimaldi Forum and within it was a very eclectic mix of different sectors. Imagina’s scope was wider than other 3D events / conferences I have attended in the past which have predominantly focussed on 3D production within the entertainment sector. It was interesting to discover more about the uses 3D and stereoscopic 3D can have in other fields.
Let’s start off with the Imagina exhibition. Occupying a large area, many different companies were showing their wares. What really grabbed my attention was the 3D printing technology on display. I started off talking to a woman from a company called Multistation. Multistation have developed a 3D printer you could say is suitable “for the home” costing less than 1000 Euros and the results were impressive.
The Extru 3D printer is a kit form device that deploys a hot glue gun style stylus that melts a plastic filament wire and squirts out the viscous liquid while moving along XYZ coordinates. As soon as the filament leaves the gun it starts to dry and slowly but surely, a 3D object is formed layer by layer.
For the price and relative simplicity of the device, the 3D printed objects were surprisingly intricate. I picked up a model of a human hand created by the Extru-3D and was surprised at the level of detail involved.
The Multistation Extru-3D printer can produce 3D objects designed by most CAD packages. The file needs to be saved as a Stereo Lithography File (STL) onto a regular SD memory card which is then inserted into the control panel of the Extru 3D printer. This file is then converted to g-code to produce the layers to be printed. After each layer the print bed is lowered providing space for the next one.
The Extru – 3D printer can apparently print objects from a range of different types of filament and colours. Apparently it can even print out some of its replacement parts!
Here is a video of me talking to a rep from Multistation about the Extru-3D printer.
There were other 3D printing activities going on and the quality of 3D objects on display was seriously impressive.
Click here for a brief short video of some of the 3D objects on display.
For more information about the Multistation Extru 3D printer visit http://www.multistation.com/en/spip.php?article546
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