The present futurist…

Image: Album cover for Neil Young's 'Trans'

After seeing the Blade Runner sequel (2049), I was thinking how otherworldly the landscape, technology and job roles (memory designer) still seem. Then I remembered the original 1982 movie was set in 2019. That’s right. Only one more year before Replicants and spinners abound or become reality… maybe? It did make me think about technology – predictions, reality and constraints.

3D printing and its application in the dental industry

While delving into a new subject area – 3D design and manufacturing in the dental industry – I was struck by how locked and closed many of the software and hardware systems are, while also purporting to be the next saviour of the industry. I guess someone’s got to put food on the table for their family. While the technology has been around for a number of years, and is used in many industries, 3D printing in particular has almost become mainstream. You can get a ‘mini-me’ printed at Officeworks or buy your own budget printer from Aldi (if you get there early enough when they’re on sale. Maybe camp out). But these don’t quite cut it when you are dealing with the tenths of millimetres required when working on behalf of someone’s mouth. Do you want a crown that doesn’t quite fit?

My role is to help design a course to teach students how to apply these technologies to making dental appliances (e.g. retainers) and restorations (e.g. crowns). I always start by getting reductive and breaking everything into as many pieces and steps as possible. Where will these students start? It depends on their experience. If they haven’t much experience in digital graphic design, I will likely start with points, lines and faces (2D shapes within a 3D form) and the interaction of these with each other when you manipulate them. The students with more experience in digital graphic design? The deep end; we can start applying it to the shapes and forms commonly found in the mouth and on different teeth.

So, ‘til next time. I’m off to explore “minimum feature size of the XY plane”, “Z-axis resolution”, “laser spots sizes” and “curve linear/organic forms”… but secretly, I’ll be looking out for ‘people’ displaying unusual emotional responses, flying cars and the year 2019. Just think, Stanley Kubric and Arthur C Clarke were only nine years off with their iPad, so maybe I’ll be patient until 2028.