Virtual to Real, and Back Again

1 minute read

Don Lancaster likes to call them Santa Claus Machines, and the Wikipedia has a more formal definition: “A Santa Claus Machine is a hypothetical machine that is capable of creating any required object or structure out of any given material.”

I’ve been watching (from afar) the entire field of 3D Printing for a while. These machines convert a description of a 3D object into an actual physical realization of the object. Current machines use a single material (generally plastic or plaster), while the hypothetical Santa Claus Machine would literally synthesize the realization out of individual atoms or molecules.

A couple of weeks ago I got a Second Life IM (Instant Message) from Hal9k Andalso, developer of the Second411 search engine for Second Life. He gave me a sneak preview of his newest project, the Fabjectory.

In a nutshell, the Fabjectory creates a tangible, real-life model of a Second Life avatar using a 3D printer! Prices range from $49 for a 2″ avatar to $99 for a 7″ version. There are a whole bunch of really good pictures in the gallery.

My wife claims that my avatar is a better dresser (and has a better physique) than the real me, so perhaps she’d like one of these as a gift.

Going in the other direction, the Eightbar blog reports on a project to create Second Life structures based on sketches made on a PowerPoint slide! As far as I can tell there’s nothing magic about the use of PowerPoint other than the fact that it is very easy to use it to create simple line art. The post includes a rather cool shot of a maze built in this way.

The world(s) just get cooler and more interesting every day, don’t they?