Making data matter

Credit: Mediated Matter Group / MIT Media Lab

The world is awash in digital images, from photographs to x-rays to computer models to 3D scans. The advent of 3D printing has made it possible to take imaging data and print it into physical representations, but the process of doing so has been prohibitively time-intensive and costly.

A new data processing method pioneered by the Wyss Institute in collaboration with the MIT Media Lab removes that roadblock by converting various different forms of imaging data into a file type called "dithered bitmaps," which preserves fine details and allows quick and easy distinction between different parts of an image. The researchers hope that this "bridging of the gap between digital information representation and physical material composition" will help democratize 3D printing and allow anyone to print nearly anything.

Here is a selection of the physical objects their method created from various imaging datasets, featured in a second publication in Science Advances.


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