3D printing is a process of making a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model. 3D printing is achieved using an additive process, where successive layers of material are laid down in different shapes. The 3D printing technology is used for both prototyping and distributed manufacturing with applications in architecture, construction, industrial design, automotive, aerospace, military, engineering, civil engineering, dental, biotech and many other industries. It's been speculated for some time that 3D printing will become a mass market item – and this has brought Microsoft into the picture. The US Patent and Trademark Office recently revealed Microsoft's patent pending invention related to a 3D printer.
Microsoft's Invention Summary
In one or more implementations, Microsoft's patent pending invention covers a system which includes a three-dimensional printer and a computing device. The three-dimensional printer has a three-dimensional printing mechanism that is configured to form a physical object in three dimensions. The computing device is communicatively coupled to the three-dimensional printer and includes a three-dimensional printing module implemented at least partially in hardware to cause the three-dimensional printer to form the physical object in three dimensions as having functionality configured to communicate with a computing device.
In one or more implementations, a plurality of objects are caused to be printed in three-dimensions by a computing device, each of the objects representative of a respective item of data accessible to the one or more computing devices. A physical arrangement of the plurality of objects is monitored by the computing device. A logical relationship is formed between the items of data that is based on the monitored physical arrangement of the plurality of objects, respectively, by the computing device.
In one or more implementations, one or more computer-readable storage media comprise instruction stored thereon that, responsive to execution by a computing device, causes the computing device to perform operations. The operations include output of a user interface having representations of functionality that is selectable for inclusion in an object to be formed by a three-dimensional printer, the representations not including indications of components that are to be included as part of the object to provide the functionality. The operations also include computing an arrangement of the corresponding components as part of the object to provide the functionality responsive to selection of a plurality of the representations of functionality.
Microsoft's patent FIG. 1 is an illustration of an environment in an example implementation that is operable to perform three-dimensional printing of an object; FIG. 2 is an illustration of a system in an example implementation showing a three-dimensional printing module and a three-dimensional printing mechanism of FIG. 1 in greater detail.
Microsoft filed their patent application in February 2012. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time. For those of you wishing to dig further into Microsoft patent, review their filing here.
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