A 3D Printer For Ice Sculptures? Sure, Why Not?

[Credit: McGill.ca]
3D printers are getting more and more capable every day, and we're seeing more that can print with alternative materials. In one recent project, a DIYer experimented with using nylon as a viable alternative to ABS, the traditional material used in 3D printers, as it extrudes at a higher temperature and has a greater degree of flexibility.

Going in the other direction, Pieter Sijpkes and Jorge Angeles at McGill University are looking into printing 3D models using ice. The machine they use dispenses water along with potassium chloride brine--a material that freezes at a lower temperature than water--which serves as support scaffolding for the ice. When the print is done, they place the model in an environment that’s a bit warmer, and the brine melts away, leaving the ice sculpture behind.

The most obvious purpose for this would be to print out some solid ice martini glasses, but unless the ambient temperature is below freezing, nothing printed in ice is going to last too long. Thankfully there’s an entire festival dedicated to ice and snow sculptures, but I feel like they might get disqualified for not using manual techniques. I’m also curious to know what a professional ice carver thinks about the 3D ice printer.

Make sure you check out the videos they posted, and let me know what you think in the comments.

[McGill via Hack A Day]

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