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Disney takes the art of 3D printing to the next level

Disney isn't just about fairytale castles and princesses. It’s also got a pretty serious technical research facility, and they've invented something that promises to bring 3D printing (opens in new tab) into the realms of sci-fi.

3D printing isn't just about solid objects any more - and Disney's new tech brings exciting new capabilities to 3D-printed toys and gadgets

3D printing isn't just about solid objects any more - and Disney's new tech brings exciting new capabilities to 3D-printed toys and gadgets

The new tech is called "printed optics" and enables sensing, display, and illumination elements to be directly embedded in the body of an interactive device (if you're inspired, see how you can make 3D prints using your own photos for free with Memento.

When projected imagery is mapped onto this character's eyes, it responds to user interaction such as sound or physical movement

When projected imagery is mapped onto this character's eyes, it responds to user interaction such as sound or physical movement

Examples include:

  • A toy with an embedded heart shape that glows when illuminated in a heartbeat-like rhythm.
  • chess pieces that display information about where they are on the board using light
  • plastic blocks that appear to show explosions inside when light is shone at them

This toy character has an embedded heart shape made from a series of internal bubbles. When illuminated the embedded heart shape glows with a heartbeat-like rhythm

This toy character has an embedded heart shape made from a series of internal bubbles. When illuminated the embedded heart shape glows with a heartbeat-like rhythm

Check out the video demonstrating the new technology:

Full technical details of how printed optics work can be found in this research paper (opens in new tab).

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The Creative Bloq team is made up of a group of design fans, and has changed and evolved since Creative Bloq began back in 2012. The current website team consists of six full-time members of staff: Editor Kerrie Hughes, Deputy Editor Rosie Hilder, Deals Editor Beren Neale, Senior News Editor Daniel Piper, Digital Arts and Design Editor Ian Dean, and Staff Writer Amelia Bamsey, as well as a roster of freelancers from around the world. The 3D World and ImagineFX magazine teams also pitch in, ensuring that content from 3D World and ImagineFX is represented on Creative Bloq. 

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