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Visualized: Objet's 3D printer breathes plastic life into Hollywood creatures, layer by layer

Darren Murph

It ain't easy being plastic, you know? Objet -- the 3D printing house that aimed to replace your office's all-in-one Epson back in July -- brought a few of its snazziest pieces here to SIGGRAPH, and we popped by to have a gander. Targeting the animation-inspired crowd that showed up here in Vancouver, the company brought along some Hollywood examples of how its multi-material Objet260 Connex helped movie makers craft prototype creatures before they were inserted into the storyline. Thor's Destroyer and Avatar's Na'vi were both on hand, as well as the two critters shown above. The hothead on the right was crafted in around 18 hours (and subsequently painted), while the cool cat on the left was built in three fewer. Wildly enough, that fellow required no painting whatsoever; so long as you're cool with shades of grey, you can program your object to be colored from the outset. Oh, and as for his cost? Around $80 for the materials -- slightly more for the printer itself.

Gallery: Objet's 3D printing breathes plastic life into Hollywood creatures at SIGGRAPH | 27 Photos

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Objet-Created Models From Blockbuster Movies Showcased at SIGGRAPH 2011

BILLERICA, Massachusetts, August 9, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --

Objet Ltd., the innovation leader in 3D printing for rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing, will be showcasing its advanced 3D printing solutions at SIGGRAPH's 38th International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, 7 - 11 August 2011 in Vancouver, Canada.

Objet's newest multi-material 3D printer, the compact Objet260 Connex - based on the company's patented inkjet 3D printing technology and the world's only system able to jet two materials at the same time - will be on display.

Objet will be showcasing Objet-created models from two blockbuster movies: Destroyer, from the 2011 American superhero film Thor and Neytiri of the Na'vi clan from 2009's Academy Award winning movie Avatar. The models are just a few examples of how Objet's technology is used by Legacy Effects - an award winning, full service character design, make-up, specialty prop and animatronic studio - to help bring movie characters to life.

Jason Lopes, senior systems engineer at Legacy Effects, says that rapid prototyping has been integral to their design process since Jurassic Park 3: The Lost World. "From the moment we were introduced to Objet's technology, we knew it would change our business," says Lopes. "Things we had never thought of are possible with this technology. All detail is captured and nothing is ever lost or forgotten in translation. Basically, anything that we can think up, the Objet 3D printers can print within hours."

Objet will also have several extraordinary models on hand to demonstrate the breadth and versatility of its materials, capable of simulating properties ranging from varying grades of rubber to clear transparency, all the way to rigid, ABS-grade engineering plastics. Objet currently has over 60 3D printing materials, including 51 composite materials (Digital Materials), allowing designers and engineers to print typically challenging parts.

Visitors to Objet's booth (934) can view:

* A model motorcycle from the workshop of Orange County Choppers - a New York-based custom and production motorcycle manufacturer featured on Discovery Channel's American Chopper. The motorcycle was built to demonstrate the ability to adhere different Objet materials together to produce a prototype to help the team at Orange County Choppers fully understand the design intricacies of the motorcycle.
* A fully functional skateboard, printed on an Objet Connex multi-material 3D printers which has similar high dimensional stability, thermal resistance, and toughness as ABS-grade engineering plastics, enabling it to repeatedly sustain the weight of a person.

Objet 3D printers use patented inkjet-based technology to jet ultra-thin layers of photopolymer materials onto system build trays, where each layer is cured with UV light. The process delivers models which can be handled immediately, with exceptional accuracy and allowing complex geometry, including thin walls, overhangs and even moveable parts.

Objet's true-to-life models offer unique opportunities for the Animation and Entertainment industry. Objet looks forward to hosting SIGGRAPH attendees at the Objet Booth 934 to experience the latest in 3D printing systems and materials.

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