Heat-sensitive paper could lead to 3D printers

When you've already got self-assembling robots and Li-ion batteries, you might as well tackle 3D printouts next, right? Apparently that's the mantra being used by physicists in Israel who have purportedly invented a monomer solution that, when heated over 33 degrees Celsius, would bend and form into the object depicted, theoretically turning a flat, 2D photo into a three-dimensional rendition. Eran Sharon and colleagues from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem applied N-isopropylacrylamide to the surface of a prototype "disc," and "created a range of structures varying in complexity, from slightly wavy crisp-like objects to those that look like a sombrero." Interestingly, a scientist not directly involved with the study commented that the discovery could actually be used to craft printers that could pop out 3D printouts when heat was added, which would surely keep kids occupied (and your ink cartridges bone dry) for weeks on end. As expected, there weren't many details hinting that this novel idea would be headed for the commercial realm anytime soon, but considering all the other 3D paraphernalia already out, we can't imagine this taking too long to follow suit.

[Via Slashdot]