Researchers fur-bricate hair with 3-D printer
3-D printers typically produce hard plastic objects, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have found a way to produce hair-like strands, fibers and bristles using a common, low-cost printer.
The technique for producing 3-D-printed hair is similar to – and inspired by – the way that gossamer plastic strands are extruded when a person uses a hot glue gun. “You just squirt a little bit of material and pull away,” said Gierad Laput, a Ph.D. student in Carnegie Mellon’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute. “It’s a very simple idea, really.”
The plastic hair is produced strand by strand, so the process isn't fast: It takes about 20-25 minutes to generate hair on 10 square millimeters. But it requires no special hardware, just a set of parameters that can be added to a 3-D print job. The resulting hair can be cut, curled with hot air, or braided. Dense, close-cropped strands can form a brush.
Laput and his institute colleagues, Xiang “Anthony” Chen and Chris Harrison, will present their method Nov. 11 at UIST 2015, the ACM User Interface Software and Technology Symposium, in Charlotte. The Nov. 8-11 symposium will be held at the Sheraton Charlotte, 555 S. McDowell St. Details: http://uist.acm.org.
Learn about nature’s builders at Thursday program
Learn about the various ways animals build nests, homes, dams and other structures at a free program Wednesday at the Charlotte Nature Museum. Museum director and naturalist Marvin Bouknight will lead the 7 p.m. program. Meet at the museum entrance (museum admission is not necessary); those younger than 16 must be acompanied by an adult. The museum is at 1658 Sterling Road, adjacent to Freedom Park. Parking is free. Details: www.charlottenaturemuseum.org.
Thursday lecture about mammals of Madagascar
Wildlife biologist Luke Dollar, of the Nichols Scool of the Environment at Duke University, will give a lecture Thursday at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences that relates to its current “Extreme Mammals” exhibition. Dollar is also an associate professor of biology at Pfeiffer University and is an Emerging Explorer with National Geographic. A special area of study for him is the fossa – a cat-like carnivore found only on the African island of Madagascar. The fossa preys on lemurs and plays a crucial role in maintaining the equilibrium of the island’s food chain.
Admission to the 7 p.m. lecture is $10. The museum is at 11 W. Jones St. Details: www.naturalsciences.org.
Better dentistry – with diamond-laced fillings
Dinosaur nasal passages were certainly nothing to sneeze at. Possessing some of the largest and most complex nasal passages seen in animals, their function has puzzled paleontologists. But new research, based on 3-D reconstructions, suggests that the size and shape of these nasal passages would have allowed incoming air to cool the blood making its way to the brain, and maintaining the brain at an optimum temperature.
Nasal passages act as air conditioners, warming and humidifying air as it is breathed in, and cooling and drying it as air leaves the body. Modern mammals, birds, lizards, and crocodiles use a variety of structures – some simple, and some complex – to accomplish heat exchange efficiently. But large dinosaurs, whose bodies would have held on to more heat than smaller-bodied animals, needed elaborate and specialized nasal passages to avoid overheating their brains.
The study was presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontologists.