Tag Archives: futurism

Ten photos of 3D printed bridges, buildings and other supersized structures

By , June 22, 2015, 6:20 AM PST // @nickjheath

If you thought 3D printers were only good for building tiny plastic toys then you’re mostly right, especially when it comes to desktop models.

However, there are people using the technology to realize grander designs, to create bridges and even buildings. Here are 10 projects promising to make 3D printing bigger and better.



A Dutch start-up, MX3D, plans to use robotic arms to weld layer upon layer of molten steel together into a steel bridge across a canal in Amsterdam. MX3D hopes to begin work on building the bridge, using the process seen in an artist’s impression above, in September.

Image: MX3D



This five-storey building was built using a 150-meter long 3D printer, using “ink” made from recycled construction waste. When it was built earlier this year, the structure in Suzhou Industrial Park, Shanghai, China, was claimed to be the “world’s tallest 3D-printed building”.

Image: WinSun Decoration Design Engineering



This concept for a 3D-printed lunar base was devised by the European Space Agency with architects Foster+Partners. Their vision is for two robot 3D printers to mix lunar soil with other materials and layer it over an inflatable dome to form a protective shell over a moonbase, which could house four people.

Image: ESA



The Strati is an electric car with a 3D printed body and chassis made of just 40 parts, compared to more than 20,000 in a typical vehicle. The vehicle is built from a single block of ABS plastic reinforced with carbon fiber and takes 44 hours to print. Manufacturer, Arizona-based Local Motors, says the car, due for release in 2016, will have a top speed of 50mph and range of about 62 miles.

Image: Local Motors



This nine-feet high pavillion measures 12 by 12 feet across and is made up of 840 3D-printed bricks. The structure was made by researchers at UC Berkeley, who developed a new type of iron oxide-free Portland cement polymer formulation, which allowed for faster and lower cost construction than alternate materials for 3D-printing structures.

Image: UC Berkeley



Even though it’s described as a house, this is at best a 3D-printed room, and a rather cosy one at that. The pod, created by students in the US and England, packs a toilet, kitchenette, and furniture into a compact structure. It took 60 hours for the voxeljet VX4000 printer to make and cost about €60,000.

Image: voxeljet



This plane is full of 3D printed parts. This Airbus A350 XWB plane has more than 1,000 flight components made using high-end additive manufacturing 3D printers. The A350 XWB is Airbus’ extra wide body plane that seats about 315 passengers and has a range of 7,750 nautical miles. The parts were made out of ULTEM 9085 resin using an FDM 3D Production Systems machine.

Image: Airbus



Satellite company Rocket Lab says its Rutherford rocket engine is the first of its type to use 3D printing for its primary components. All its parts – the regeneratively cooled thrust chamber, the injector, the pumps and the main propellant valves – can be printed from titanium alloys within about three days using a 3D printing technique called electron beam melting. Traditionally manufacturing the parts would take months, according to Rocket Lab.

Image: Rocket Lab


Sizable sculptures

Resembling a Minecraft creation made real, this 3D-printed head by artist Miguel Chevalier depicts the Roman God Janus, who legend claimed could gaze into the past and the future at the same time. Printed in 40 hours as a single block using a voxeljet VX4000 printer, it weighs 120kg and measures 1000 x 1000 x 820 mm.

Image: voxeljet


Building bots

The Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia claim their Minibuilder robots can construct large structures of many different proportions. The bots use robotic arms, rollers and vacuum suction cups to build layer by layer, as seen above.

Image: Institute for Advanced Architecture

About Nick Heath

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic UK. He writes about the technology that IT-decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.



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Amazing Ships of the Future

Amazing ships of the future

Ships of the future often resemble spacecraft, and look set to revolutionize ocean travel over the coming years. Here are some of the most amazing designs.




SeaOrbiter, the brainchild of Jacques Rougerie, will fulfill multiple tasks, including serving as a mobile underwater home, a space simulator capable of accommodating astronauts, and a scientific platform providing insight into the ocean ecosystem.(SeaOrbiter/Jacques Rougerie) (SeaOrbiter/Jacques Rougerie)


Huge Undersea lab

SeaOrbiter is also described as a multimedia communications platform that can provide a constant flow of educational programs and information to the public. The vessel will also function as a laboratory and underwater base for deploying vehicles. (SeaOrbiter/Jacques Rougerie)



Designed by Paris, France-based Vincent Callebaut Architectures, LilyPad is described as a “floating ecopolis for climatic refugees.” (VINCENT CALLEBAUT ARCHITECTURES -WWW.VINCENT.CALLEBAUT.ORG)



Norwegian ship designer Lade AS has a futuristic design for cargo vessels, which uses the ships’ hulls as a sail. Inspired by sailboats and aerospace, the ‘Vindskip,’ with its hull shaped like a symmetrical air foil, is designed to use the wind for propulsion.  (Copyright Lade AS)


High-tech hull

Lade AS says that the Vindskip’s hull will generate aerodynamic lift, giving a pull in the ship’s direction. (Copyright Lade AS)


Rolls-Royce ship design

Rolls-Royce has unveiled a number of concept designs for remote controlled ships, which are being touted as cheaper, safer, and more environmentally friendly than traditional vessels. (Rolls-Royce plc)


Revolutionary remote controlled ship designs

“Now it is time to consider a roadmap to unmanned vessels of various types,” says Rolls-Royce. (Rolls-Royce plc)








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Futuristic cargo vessel looks to revolutionize shipping

  • Vindskip2.jpg

     (Copyright Lade AS)

Norwegian ship designer Lade AS has unveiled a futuristic new design for cargo vessels, which uses the ships’ hulls as a sail.

Inspired by sailboats and aerospace, the ‘Vindskip,’ with its hull shaped like a symmetrical air foil, is designed to use the wind for propulsion.  Lade AS says that the ship’s hull will generate aerodynamic lift, giving a pull in the ship’s direction.

The hybrid merchant vessel will also use a Liquid Natural Gas electric propulsion system, which takes the ship to the necessary speed to generate aerodynamic lift on its hull. Additionally, the Vindskip will employ a specialized computer program to analyze meteorological data and calculate the best sailing route based on available wind energy.

Terje Lade, manager of Lade AS, told FoxNews.com that the Vindskip concept is being tested using wind tunnels and computational fluid dynamics. Testing of a model in a water tank is scheduled to begin in April, he explained in an email. Lade AS plans to eventually license the Vindskip concept to shipping companies, ship consultants, and shipyards.

The Alesund-based company has already been awarded two patents for the hull’s ability to generate aerodynamic lift, which it describes as its Wind Power System.

Lade told FoxNews.com that the Vindskip development project will be finished by the fourth quarter of 2015, and estimates that engineering and construction will take approximately 2 to 3 years. “Our estimate is that it should be sailing in 2019,” he added.

The project has already attracted the attention of at least one shipping industry heavyweight. A spokesman for Wilhelmsen, one of Norway’s largest shipowners, told FoxNews.com that the company’s technical department has been involved in brainstorming related to the Vindskip, although there has been no formal involvement or investment in the project. “Some years back, our technical team developed our concept vessel (Orcelle) — and based on this we were invited into the Vindskip project,” he explained in an email.”Our vision is ‘shaping the maritime industry,’ and we value sharing some ‘futuristic’ thoughts and ideas on how shipping can develop some years ahead.”


Lade AS estimates that the Vindskip design could generate fuel savings of 60% and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80% compared to a traditional ship. The designer says that the design is particularly well suited to a number of passenger and container vessels.

However, Chris Cheetham, founder of Soter Advisors, a fuel and energy risk management consultancy specializing in the shipping industry, said that a number of factors could impact potential savings. “What these designs will come down to is ‘how much does it really cost?'” he told FoxNews.com. “You have to relate that to the cost of building and charter rates for shipping.”

Cheetham cited the huge pullback in oil prices and the “inventory” of traditional ships that are already scheduled to be built as factors that companies will need to consider before licensing a revolutionary design such as the Vindskip.

Story updated from Jan. 19 with comments from Lade AS, Wilhelmsen, and Soter Advisors.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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9 Military Technologies That Will Soon Change Warfare

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U.S. Navy photo

The technological revolution in modern warfare isn’t just about airborne drones silently scouting the battlefield from 30,000 feet. We’ve already looked at some developments in the works, but more technologies are on the way from the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), working with defense contractors and other private companies. Though some of these blueprints look like they’re right out of a futuristic summer blockbuster movie, most are just a few years away from deployment. Some have the potential to save combat soldiers’ lives. They all will change the face of war. Take a look:

A “Flying Humvee”

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DARPA Illustration

This rugged transporter would take off like a helicopter and fly like a cargo plane. When they land, some versions under study by Lockheed Martin, United Technologies and Textron would even be able to drive off like, well, a Humvee. The concept vehicle, dubbed the ARES, would be similar to a small version of a V-22 Osprey transport, which already provides the Army and Marines with a huge operational advantage in difficult terrains. One of its most promising capabilities: quickly moving soldiers and gear over minefields and past roadside booby traps without having to call in a bomb squad first. The military wants the air-to-land vehicle to be extremely rugged, utilitarian in design, easy to operate and simple to fix.

Silent-Running Motorcycles

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Image courtesy BRD Motorcycles

Imagine off-road dirt bike engines that make no sound. They would be powered by tough, powerful battery packs, allowing warriors to sneak up quickly on an unsuspecting enemy.Such designs are in the works at Logos Technologies and electric bike maker BRD. The electric two-wheelers would have just a small reserve of gasoline in case of an electric failure, plus a secondary fuel source, if needed, to escape danger.

Lasers on the High Seas

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Laser Weapon system (LaWS) aboard the USS Ponce.
U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams.

Easier to turn, aim and fire than today’s heavy shipboard antiaircraft weaponry, laser guns will give sailors a more precise bead on the enemy. So precise, in fact, that naval vessels will be able to zap and disable an approaching enemy boat’s engine, allowing sailors to capture and interrogate their combatants rather than killing or wounding them. This technology will be especially useful in close-to-shore patrols, where ships are more vulnerable to attacks from small boats. Several companies are involved in building the so-called Laser Weapons System, including Raytheon and San Diego-based defense contractor Kratos. It will be tested soon aboard the USS Ponce, one of the workhorses of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet.

Doctors Inside Bodies

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DARPA/Northwestern University photo

Early research is promising for development of medical “nanobots” that could be introduced into a soldier’s bloodstream or tissues, capable of releasing treatments for everything from a sore throat to malaria or maybe even the effects of chemical or biological weapons The nanobots, part of an area of research called In Vivo Nanoplatforms, would work at the molecular level, hitching rides on a natural protein in the body. One day they might save the lives of soldiers where combat medicine or medevac services are lacking, and they could eventually find their way into civilian applications, too.

The Mach 7 Navy Gun

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Office of Naval Research photo

Using electromagnetic energy instead of gunpowder or other combustible fuel, this rail gun fires 23-pound shells a distance of 100 miles or more at seven times the speed of sound — Mach 7. The Navy expects to conduct seaside trials in 2016, after more limited testing in defense labs. A rail gun projectile will cost as little as $25,000 — far less than the current cost of an attack missile, $500,000 to $1.5 million. And one warship could hold hundreds of projectiles. Multiple rail gun shells could also be fired in sequence to blow apart incoming missiles.

Water Drones

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U.S. Navy photo

Unmanned seacraft, ranging in size from a Jet Ski up to a small yacht, will be joining the Naval arsenal in the coming years. Operated remotely, they’ll be used to patrol coastlines or perform mine sweeps. Some vessels could be equipped with weapons. This all may sound like a simpler proposition than airborne drones; not so. Unmanned surface boats have to negotiate currents, riptides, debris, other boats and even cope with the occasional rogue wave. Plus the elaborate electronic components need to stand up to corrosive saltwater conditions.

Satellite “Slingshots”

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The Air Force and Boeing are working on a device that can launch satellites from airborne vehicles more quickly and cheaply than via a conventional rocket launch. The way it works now, small spy and defense-related satellites often piggyback on larger spacebound payloads blasting off from the ground. This complicated process can cost tens, even hundreds of millions of dollars. Instead, a special high-altitude jet would be used to vault satellites into orbit, using a small rocket attached to the wing or underbelly of the jet. Cost estimates then drop to around $1 million per launch. As satellites get smaller and more powerful, this type of launch will gain popularity with the military, which wants the option to deploy satellites quickly and anywhere.

War Room on a Table Screen

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DARPA image

A portable device will allow commanders to visualize the battlefield using holography and interactive maps — no 3-D glasses needed. The Urban Photonic Sandtable Display condenses the giant war room screen that’s become a movie cliché to the size of a dinner table. Zebra Imaging of Austin, Texas, is a leader in the development field and has been working on 3-D military maps of varying sophistication for several years. Possibilities for commercial applications are many, including uses for engineering and architecture.

Google Glass-like Eyegear for Soldiers

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DARPA image

Troops one day will receive vital, real-time cues about their location, surrounding terrain, danger zones and much more with “augmented reality” holographic glasses. Called ULTRA-Vis, the transparent eye screen covers one eye and provides visual pop-ups keyed to a wearer’s exact location, plus directional signs and alerts to enemy locations. Yes, it’s like Google Glass, but featuring a mini war room map with sensors and live data. Applied Research Associates in Arlington, Virginia, and Britain’s BAE Systems are developing the eyewear with DARPA. As the technology is refined, future applications could easily be found for police, firefighters and even commercial pilots.

Read more at http://www.kiplinger.com/slideshow/business/T057-S010-9-military-technologies-that-will-change-warfare/index.html#fvCV3Hcpbcdz3PLR.99


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Floating farms in the sky: Singapore concept design shows possible future of sustainable farming

Posted Tue at 5:22pmTue 30 Sep 2014, 5:22pm

In a post-apocalyptic future, where sea levels have swallowed the ground, food will be grown in great towers floating on the sea.

It sounds like something from science fiction, but a Spanish architectural firm is bringing the concept closer to reality.

In a pilot project for the shores of Singapore, Barcelona-based firm JAPA has designed a network of looping towers floating on the shoreline to house crops for the increasingly land-poor nation.

“What we propose is not just a single tower but it’s like a network of towers that will produce agriculture via hydroponics,” said Javier Ponce, head architect and founder of Forward Thinking Architecture, the ideas lab for JAPA.

“All the crops will be produced inside the vertical structures that will be placed or located next to the cities and more dense areas.

“They will [then] distribute the crops, reducing the food mileage, avoiding CO2 and other factors.”

The farms are stacked in towers that sit like looped ribbon and float upright on the coastlines of major cities. They are designed to stand 150 metres tall, but the prototypes will begin much smaller.

“We used the sun as a design driver. The loop shape enables the vertical structure to receive more sunlight without having significant shadows,” Mr Ponce said.

The towers have a number of sensors that will monitor the crops remotely. They will operate on self-managing protocols, with consumption data collected from the cities telling the towers what to grow and in what amount.

“We aim to use a metabolic layer on top of the physical structure like a protocol,” Mr Ponce said.

“The aim is that these vertical structures have this protocol that is based on real-time data of the city consumption, so this will help us to know the amount of food and type of food [required], avoiding a lot of food waste.”

Singapore floating farm design explainer graphic

Design could be the answer for densely populated countries

Singapore has the third highest population density in the world, with 7,700 people per square kilometre.

Lacking space for agriculture, Singapore is forced to import 90 per cent of its food.

This concept could be the answer to food security concerns for small, densely populated nations that stand to lose more farmable land to rising sea levels, climate change and population growth.

“We believe these types of initiatives can be applied closer to the existing and new emerging urban centres in order to help mitigate the future food issue,” Mr Ponce said.

This can transform a city’s nearby territories into more stimulating environments, capable of self-producing quality food

Javier Ponce, Forward Thinking Architecture

“This can transform a city’s nearby territories into more stimulating environments, capable of self-producing quality food in order to avoid massive imports from abroad.”

Mr Ponce said the design could have wide applications for other land-poor and small island nations.

“We believe it’s interesting to explore because you don’t have land and you have premium prices and water is scarce. We believe it is quite an interesting concept to explore but it will depend on each country,” he said.

The Singapore pilot project has not yet begun and already Mr Ponce said he has received interest from international agriculture organisations.

“We have been approached by some agricultural societies and some private clients as well but it will take further study and quite a bit of time to study this in order to give a real opinion based on testing,” he said.

“We would love to work with technology companies and governments in order to see if this can work in the future.”

Mr Ponce said the plans had been submitted to the Singaporean government, and the project would begin once they had been approved.

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Musk: SpaceX could land humans on Mars in 10 to 12 years

Musk: SpaceX could land humans on Mars in 10 to 12 years

SpaceX founder Elon Musk thinks his private spaceflight company will have the capability to land humans on Mars within 12 years, assuming the availability of funding for the historic mission. Also, once SpaceX starts making steps toward this goal, the company could be floated on the stock market to boost investment for the red planet adventure.

Musk, who also founded the electric car manufacturer Tesla, has always made his interplanetary intentions known, but this recent announcement is a reminder about how far the company has come and how far it is looking into the future.

 During the CNBC interview, Musk said: “I’m hopeful that the first people could be taken to Mars in 10 to 12 years, I think it’s certainly possible for that to occur. But the thing that matters long term is to have a self-sustaining city on Mars, to make life multiplanetary.”

Musk also highlighted NASA’s role in SpaceX’s success, pointing out that without the US space agency’s pioneering work that SpaceX wouldn’t be where it is today. NASA provided funding to help develop SpaceX’s Falcon rocket series and Dragon space capsule, eventually awarding the company a $1.6 billion contract to help resupply the International Space Station.

SpaceX is now competing for the next round of NASA contracts that will be awarded to a private US spaceflight company for commercial crew launches to the space station. Musk unveiled the crewed version of the Dragon capsule — dubbed the Dragon “V2″ (version 2) — at the company’s headquarters in Hawthorn, Calif., last month.

The Dragon V2 will be considered in a 3-way competition to acquire NASA contracts to fly astronauts to the space station (and beyond), ending the US dependence on the Russian Soyuz launch vehicle to get astronauts into space after the Space Shuttle fleet was retired in 2011. Aerospace giant Boeing and spaceflight company Sierra Nevada also have potential “space taxis” in the running, but NASA cannot fund them all.

Should SpaceX not win the commercial crew contract, however, Musk is still confident that his ultimate Mars dream can be fulfilled.

“It’s possible that we may not win the commercial crew contract. … We’ll do our best to continue on our own, with our own money,” he said. “We would not be where we are today without the help of NASA.”

SpaceX is hoping to see the maiden flight of the powerful Falcon Heavy rocket within the next year, a booster that could launch heavy components for a Mars mission into space.

A potential route to funding a Mars mission could come if SpaceX went public and floated on the stock market. But with investors comes pressure for the company to be constantly growing and being profitable, momentum that can be difficult to maintain over a multi-year effort toward the one Mars goal.

“We need to get where things a steady and predictable,” Musk said. “Maybe we’re close to developing the Mars vehicle, or ideally we’ve flown it a few times, then I think going public would make more sense.”

While commenting on Tesla’s pioneering work into driving down the cost of electric cars, Musk joked that a mission to Mars may be an easier task than driving down the cost of electric car batteries to less than $5000. He was, however, optimistic that Tesla could start producing a “compelling” mass-market electric car within the next 3 years.

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Scientists Try 3-D Printer To Build Human Heart

Scientists Try 3-D Printer To Build Human Heart


Posted: 04/10/2014 8:52 am EDT Updated: 04/10/2014 12:59 pm EDT 

In this March 6, 2014 photo, a 3-D printer was used to construct these tiny two-ventricle cylinders at the University of Louisville, in Louisville, Ky. Researchers are working on a project to build a human heart using a 3-D printer and human cells. (AP Photo/Dylan Lovan) | ASSOCIATED PRESS
untitled (5)

 LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — It may sound far-fetched, but scientists are attempting to build a human heart with a 3-D printer.

Ultimately, the goal is to create a new heart for a patient with their own cells that could be transplanted. It is an ambitious project to first, make a heart and then get it to work in a patient, and it could be years — perhaps decades — before a 3-D printed heart would ever be put in a person.

The technology, though, is not all that futuristic: Researchers have already used 3-D printers to make splints, valves and even a human ear.

So far, the University of Louisville team has printed human heart valves and small veins with cells, and they can construct some other parts with other methods, said Stuart Williams, a cell biologist leading the project. They have also successfully tested the tiny blood vessels in mice and other small animals, he said.

Williams believes they can print parts and assemble an entire heart in three to five years.

The finished product would be called the “bioficial heart” — a blend of natural and artificial.

The biggest challenge is to get the cells to work together as they do in a normal heart, said Williams, who heads the project at the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute, a partnership between the university and Jewish Hospital in Louisville.

AOL AdAn organ built from a patient’s cells could solve the rejection problem some patients have with donor organs or an artificial heart, and it could eliminate the need for anti-rejection drugs, Williams said.

If everything goes according to plan, Williams said the heart might be tested in humans in less than a decade. The first patients would most likely be those with failing hearts who are not candidates for artificial hearts, including children whose chests are too small to for an artificial heart.

Hospitals in Louisville have a history of artificial heart achievements. The second successful U.S. surgery of an artificial heart, the Jarvik 7, was implanted in Louisville in the mid-1980s. Doctors from the University of Louisville implanted the first self-contained artificial heart, the AbioCor, in 2001. That patient, Robert L. Tools, lived for 151 days with the titanium and plastic pump.

Williams said the heart he envisions would be built from cells taken from the patient’s fat.

But plenty of difficulties remain, including understanding how to keep manufactured tissue alive after it is printed.

“With complex organs such as the kidney and heart, a major challenge is being able to provide the structure with enough oxygen to survive until it can integrate with the body,” said Dr. Anthony Atala, whose team at Wake Forest University is using 3-D printers to attempt to make a human kidney.

The 3-D printing approach is not the only strategy researchers are investigating to build a heart out of a patient’s own cells. Elsewhere, scientists are exploring the idea of putting the cells into a mold. In experiments, scientists have made rodent hearts that beat in the laboratory. Some simple body parts made using this method have already been implanted in people, including bladders and windpipes.

The 3-D printer works in much the same way an inkjet printer does, with a needle that squirts material in a predetermined pattern.

The cells would be purified in a machine, and then printing would begin in sections, using a computer model to build the heart layer by layer. Williams’ printer uses a mixture of a gel and living cells to gradually build the shape. Eventually, the cells would grow together to form the tissue.

The technology has already helped in other areas of medicine, including creating sure-fitting prosthetics and a splint that was printed to keep a sick child’s airway open. Doctors at Cornell University used a 3-D printer last year to create an ear with living cells.

“We’re experiencing an exponential explosion with the technology,” said Michael Golway, president of Louisville-based Advanced Solutions Inc., which built a printer being used by Williams’ team.


Follow on Lovan on Twitter: @dylanlovan

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