3D Printed Cloaking Device in a Matter of Hours

Fanny Littmarck | May 31, 2013
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It’s been almost a year since we declared 3D printing the hottest topic in manufacturing, and it hasn’t cooled off yet. If anything, 3D printing has seen a recent surge in popularity. By now you’ve heard a lot about the technology and what you can print with it, but did you know you could print invisibility cloaks this way, too?

One Invisibility Cloak, Coming Right Up!

Besides 3D printing, we’ve long been fascinated by metamaterials and cloaking, here on the COMSOL blog. Surely you remember the researchers from Duke University whose metamaterials made physics seem like magic? Using multiphysics simulation tools, they developed a metamaterial that could be used to manipulate electromagnetic waves in such a fashion that rendered an object invisible.

Metamaterial cloak
Cylindrical metamaterial cloak for microwave frequencies designed by the
Duke University research group. Image attribution: David Schurig.

These researchers have been making magic once more, by combining their metamaterials research findings with 3D printing technology. According to an article by Duke University Center for Metamaterials and Integrated Plasmonics, “Do-It-Yourself Invisibility with 3-D Printing“, an invisibility cloak can be produced within three to seven hours. And we’re not talking simulation time here — when the time is up, you’ll have a physical, 3D print-out of the cloak ready to be put to use.

About the 3D Printed Cloaking Device

The printed cloaking device is constructed to deflect microwave beams, and as per the aforementioned article, it resembles “a Frisbeeā„¢ disc made out of Swiss cheese”. The center of the disc is left open, to accommodate the object the researchers wish to conceal. When it comes to cloaking, it’s almost more about what isn’t printed; the “Swiss cheese”-style holes in the disc are what conceal the object in question as microwave beams are aimed at it. The shape, location, and size of these holes is, of course, crucial, and these metrics are determined via algorithms. Learn more about this fascinating story here.

What if we were to print out some of the models in our Model Gallery using a 3D printer?

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