3D Printing Chaos

A Friend on Facebook, Kicki, just made my mind buzz.

Her post started “Is it possible to 3D print a Menger sponge, M >= 3, and if so, would anyone with a 3D printer make me one?“. (My italics, hee hee, right approach).

I don’t have a 3D printer, but my response would be, well yeah, probably quite easily. But from what I know of plastic materials, making it nice would involve taking into account structural stability while building, being judicious where you squirt.

But stepping back one step, the 3D printer has these things about it (again, I don’t have one, am imagining) where you have to control the servos and the pump quite precisely, most probably with the standard proportional-integral-differential kind of control in there somewhere. Analogue computing to keep things on track.

Stepping back two steps, you’ve got a computer’s Cartesian 3D model transformed the hell out of to produce the physical thing. But isn’t that very arbitrary? This bunch of numbers could make any shape (within usual bounds).

Great if you want to produce something useful. (I can do that quicker with wood & a chisel!). But what about producing something interesting?

Hook the physical movement/squirty things – first case, slightly more directly to the software, let a fun algorithm use the robot as it will…eg. Menger cube.

Second case, hook it up to an analogue computer, give it a path that way. Lissajous in 3D, or much more fun, chaotic systems, printed in reality?

Of course I now have to ping Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Bernd Ulmann — “Analog Computer Evangelist” in Hamburg, behind the only commercially available traditional analog computers I’m aware of.

Finally, in case you think I was brain-splurging, I’ll quote the rest of Kicki’s post, mad and practical simultaneously:

“I had an ambition to knit a sponge filled M3-Menger cube, but couldn’t figure out how to make it sturdy enough to sit on. Also, the amount of knitting required is humongous:-)Now I’m thinking that a hand-sized plastic one would be just as satisfactory 🙂


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