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Shawn Frayne and Angus Fok of Hong Kong have found a way to pickle your dreams.

They call their invention Looking Glass, which they technically describe as a volumetric 3d printing service.  But really, they encapsulate nd preserve 3D images.

Each Looking Glass is a clear plastic cube or rectangle.  Inside the cube, a 3D figure floats, as if it had been encased in acrylic.  But in reality, there are no three dimensional images inside the cube — in fact, it’s possible that the object you see in the cube has never existed in the physical world.

The patent pending Looking Glass process works by taking a 3D model of an object, either scanned or drawn.  It then slices that model, using a soon-to-be open sourced software, into about 250 individual planes. (If you’ve ever seen CAT scans of your insides, you get the concept.)  It then prints each one of those planes onto a small sheet of acrylic plastic (sort of like the sheets from an old fashioned overhead projector).  When placed correctly in the cube, the stacked slices give the appearance of a 3D object floating in space.

Well, sort of. According to Shawn, “When we first tried it it didn’t work, because each sheet absorbs about 5% of the light that passes through it.  With a hundred sheets, the result is a grey opaque mess.”  They found their solution in a special solution: a mix of various silicone oils which, when poured into the cube, renders the sheets nearly perfectly transparent.

Looking Glass can be found at World Maker Faire NY, exhibit 10759, in the Central Pavilion, Lower Level.

Patrick Di Justo

Patrick is an editor at MAKE. He is the author of the books Environmental Monitoring with Arduino, Atmospheric Monitoring with Arduino, Environmental Sensor Networks, and The Science of Battlestar Galactica. He has sworn to defend mankind against the eventual rise of the killer bots.


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