We’ve seen our fair share of invisibility cloaks in the past, but for the most part they’ve only been the stuff of research labs or fantasy novels. Now engineers from Duke University have used a non-industrial grade 3D printer to create an invisibility cloak that you could fabricate at home.
Unlike previous attempts at creating invisibility cloaks, Duke University researchers decided to skimp on the expensive metamaterials and opted to create a completely polymer-based invisibility cloak using the stereolithographic fabrication process of a 3D printer. The resulting cloak—which can render you invisible to microwave scanning (though not visible light)—looks more like a Frisbee made of swiss cheese, but the researchers assure us that it really works.
Yaroslav Urzhumov, assistant research professor in electrical and computer engineering at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering, says the key to the obscuring nature of their cloak is the holes. They’re not just randomly placed—Urzhumov’s team devised an algorithm that determined where the holes should go, how big they should be, and what shape they should take in order to effectively deflect microwave beams.
When placing the invisibility cloak in a field of microwave beams, the disk goes completely undetected as the electromagnetic waves pass through the disk unfazed. More interestingly, placing an opaque object in the center of the cloak will also render it completely undetectable.
This particular invisibility cloak measures about 1 inch thick (3 centimeters) and 8 inches wide (20 centimeters), and takes up to seven hours to print. In theory, the researchers say the 3D-printed pieces could be chained together to create even larger cloaks.
Meanwhile,. Urzhumov says the approach could be a way toward “optical cloaking, including visible and infrared." Sci-fi-style cloaking devices, here we come!
First guns, now invisibility cloaks...what can’t you 3D print?
This story, "Here's a 3D-printed 'cloaking device' you could make at home" was originally published by TechHive.