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Watch Stormtroopers Give A 7-Year-Old Boy A 3D Printed Prosthetic Arm

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star warsIf you haven’t had a good cry yet today, this might just be the heartwarming story you’ve been waiting for all day. Liam Porter is a seven-year-old boy from Augusta, Georgia, and he was in dire need of a new prosthetic arm. His last device wasn’t working very well and he was having trouble with everyday tasks and the like. But he got a helping hand from some unlikely allies from a galaxy far, far away, as a group of stormtroopers presented him with a brand new, 3D printed arm.

Leaving an afternoon matinee one recent Saturday, Liam was shuttled to another area of the theater where he found a crowd waiting for him with a very special present. There were stormtroopers, clone troopers, and other members of the 501st Legion’s Georgia Garrison, and they presented the young boy with a new prosthetic.

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Japanese Company 3D Prints A Jet Engine

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jet engine3D printing keeps getting better—and bigger. Among a zillion other things, we’ve seen 3D-printed cars and motorcycles, and now we’ve got a working 3D-printed jet engine.

General Electric has been 3D printing jet engine parts for a while now, such as titanium turbine blades and fuel nozzles, some of which could be used for new Boeing engines. The company even put all the files online at Thingiverse so people can print the parts at home and, at least theoretically, build their own jet engines. Which, y’know, is super useful if you don’t have a jet. Maybe it would work in a vacuum? Suffice it to say, GE has been leading the back on 3D-printed jet engine stuff for a while, but now they’ve got stiff competition.

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Kickstart This 3D-Printed Electric Skateboard

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skateboardsWhat’s lightweight, fast, and 3-D printed in a variety of bubblegum colors? Your next skateboard. That is, provided the Kickstarter is a success.

“Electric Bubblegum” is the name of this electric skateboard that can reach speeds of 20 miles per hour (at least, the engine can keep up that pace for about 10 miles, but who skateboards farther than that?) It’s pretty small for a board — 27 inches long, and just over 12 pounds. Freelance inventor and skateboarding enthusiast Andrew James came up with the idea, especially after using an electric skateboard to get around his home base of Atlanta. His transportation system generated enough comments and interest among passersby that he decided to create his own model.

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SpaceX To Bring Zero-G 3D Printer To The ISS

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zerogprinterSpaceX will be bringing the first 3D printer to space on Friday, delivering it to the ISS. Once it’s up and running, astronauts will be able to print new parts for the station and for repairs, rather than wasting precious space storing spares or having to wait for a supply run.

Private companies such as SpaceX and Orbital Science make cargo delivery runs to the ISS every few months, but every inch of cargo space is valuable. If there’s room, then the additional cost is difficult to calculate and depends on the size and mass of the parts being delivered. Generally, though, it costs anywhere from $3,000-$13,000 per kilogram to send objects into low Earth orbit (depending on the rocket and its manufacturer). So the only question regarding having a 3D printer on the ISS is, what took them so long?

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3D-Printed Landmarks And Busts Give The Blind A Feel For The World

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3d printPeople just keep coming up with new ways to make use of 3D printing that never would have occurred to most of us. Lithuania’s Kaunas Library for the Blind is the latest entity to come up with an innovative new use of the technology: printing 3D models of notable landmarks, local buildings, and busts of famous people to give blind people a better sense of what these people and places look like.

Braille blows my mind, even more than sign language. The idea that someone’s fingers can read is paradigm shifting, and while Ray Kurzweil invented a revolutionary reading machine for the blind that converts text to speech all the way back in 1976, the machine is limited to printed words. While access to text and books is certainly huge, focusing on the page makes it easier to forget that blind people have an entirely different experience of the entire world, especially when it comes to absorbing the aesthetics of three-dimensional objects.

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3D-Printed Dress Responds To Wearers’ Available Data

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x.poseWearable technology isn’t just for astronauts, scientists, or crime fighters these days. There are now 3D-printed dresses and other fashions, dresses that illuminate and shift around when someone’s looking at them, and dresses that become more transparent and revealing as the wearer becomes aroused. Technology may inhibit our ability to express ourselves in some ways, such in as face-to-face conversations, but hey, at least our clothing can help make up for it, right? Now, there’s a new 3D-printed dress that reveals more and more of the user’s skin, but not in response to arousal or others’ gazes. This new dress responds to the amount of information the wearer reveals via the internet and social media.

We’ve all been inundated with articles and warnings about the unprotected state of our personal information, but studies show that, while people care about their compromised privacy, it seems that most of us remain vulnerable to hacking and other forms of surveillance. While studies also show that younger folks are just as concerned about their privacy as older folks, I do wonder if the consequences of privacy violations are less real to younger users (as so many other consequences are), or if any of us can really grapple what it means to have our data harvested — particularly by our own government. One way to impress upon people the impact of having their data up for grabs is by creating something physical that can manifest those vulnerabilities, such as a dress that bears the wearer’s skin as the wearer bears information.

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