Invisibility Cloaks Are Just a 3d Printer Away


Be the first one on your block to own an invisibility cloak. You don’t have to wait for decades or longer until science and technology somehow invent a mass-produced, affordable one. You can make one yourself. Invisibility cloaks are just a 3D printer away, according to researchers at Duke University.

While the invisibility cloak is not like the one mentioned in the article “Invisibility Time Cloak Developed” elsewhere at The Guardian Express, they are similar to the “invisibility cloaks” that were developed at  Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering that  they first demonstrated seven years ago.

You just need to have a 3D printer, ABS plastic, air, and the plans, and voila — you can create your own off-the-shelf invisibility cloak.

The cloaking technology used in this type of “invisibility cloak” doesn’t deflect visible light, according to the university. Rather, it involves creating a material or fabric with various sized holes in it based upon an algorithm which tricks microwave beams so that they don’t register the presence of object placed in the center of the material.

Someday soon, according to Yaroslav Urzhumov, who is an assistant research professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke University, there will be cloaks available that will be able to deflect higher wavelengths, including visible light.

Making one of these for yourselves would be  pretty cool, though you would need to have a couple of thousand dollars, the cost of non-industry grade 3D printer.

According to Urzhumov, “I would argue that essentially anyone who can spend a couple thousand dollars on a non-industry grade 3D printer can literally make a plastic cloak overnight.”

Urzhumov’s team, using stereolithographic fabrication, created a microwave-deflecting device “which looks like a Frisbee disc made out of Swiss cheese,” the university said.

The sky’s the limit. Even bigger invisibility cloaks, and thinner ones, might one day have military applications like making satellites, tanks, and aircraft “invisible” to enemies in the field, if Urzhumov and his colleagues at Duke and UC San Diego are correct.

“Computer simulations make me believe that it is possible to create a similar polymer-based cloaking layer as thin as one inch wrapped around a massive object several meters in diameter,” Urzhumov stated.

The same principles that make the current devices work should translate to technology which fools the human eye into thinking a cloaked object isn’t really there.

“The design of the cloak eliminates the ‘shadow’ that would be cast, and suppresses the scattering from the object that would be expected. In effect, the bright, highly reflective object, like a metal cylinder, is made invisible. The microwaves are carefully guided by a thin dielectric shell and then re-radiated back into free space on the shadow side of the cloak,” he was quoted as saying.

“We believe this approach is a way towards optical cloaking, including visible and infrared. And nanotechnology is available to make these cloaks from transparent polymers or glass. The properties of transparent polymers and glasses are not that different from what we have in our polymer at microwave frequencies.”

The new 3D-printed cloak which you can make at home is designed to make objects invisible to 10 GHz microwaves, which are about 3 cm (1.2 in) in wavelength.

Prior cloaks were made of lossy materials. These were unable to cloak an object larger than a few wavelengths in size.

Urzhumov’s cloak is made of ABS plastic, which has very little loss at 10 GHz, making it a great material from which to fashion “invisibility cloaks.”

ABS has an index of refraction of 1.56. This means that similar cloaks that hide their contents from visible light can in principle be made from optical glass and plastics having micron-scale structure rather than centimeter-scale structure.

Invisibility cloaks are just a 3D printer away.

Where can you get one? There are many online sources for them. For example, a Flashforge 3D printer can be purchased at Amazon for $1,199. Some cost more, some cost less.

Make your friends jealous — be the first one on your block to own your very own homemade Invisibility cloak using a 3D printer.


Written by: Douglas Cobb

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