It was great to see stereolithography (SLA) highlighted —albeit with some dramatic license — on the latest epidsode of "Bones" tonight. There I was, glass of wine in hand, watching one of my favourite shows, when the (fictional) forensic scientists at the Jeffersonian institute started producing a bright blue, full sized skeleton based on the 3D data that had been reverse engineered from the discovery of a skull. The ensuing laser show in a huge vat (reminiscent of Materialise's Mammoth machines) of bright blue polymer was impressive and grabbed all of the characters' attention. It even had my husband doing a double take and asking me if "that was the stuff that I blabbed on about?" Angela (the computer whizz of the group) who had acquired the machine, gave a great description of the process and how it builds a 3D model from 2D layers of the polymer from computer generated 3D data. Her verbal enunciation of the name did make me smile though: 'Stereo-lith-o-graph'. (Note the omission of the "y"). Not sure why. The only other misrepresentation came from the implication that the model was built very quickly — approximately 20 seconds, when in reality a build like that would take more like 20 hours.
Once the skeleton was built, Cam did a great job of promoting the advantages of the models as she examined it, namely that the model's joints had precisely the right movements as those of a real skeleton. She then quipped her request for a real 34 year old buff male, produced on the machine — if only!!!
The two things that have struck me most. First, forensic science is an excellent application for this technology. Second, after 17 years, I think my hubby has finally grasped what fills my working life!