Zurich / Glattbrugg | December 19, 2018
Can an "impossible object" be 3D printed, even impossibly small? The answer is: Yes, if you take an impossible object design and combine it with micro 3d printing technology. A metallic impossible object at the size of a red blood cell is born.
An impossible object is a rigid structure that appears to have an entirely different shape when seen from different perspectives. These objects - classified as impossible - have now reached another impossible state: They are printed out of solid copper in three sizes, ranging from a tiny 0.1-mm-diameter, to a very tiny 0.03-mm-diameter to an extremely tiny 0.01-mm-diameter. This size of 0.01 mm or 10 micrometers is comparable to the size of a red blood cell.
To fully appreciate the illusion, the impossible objects have been imaged at the very high resolution of an electron microscope. And even inside the electron microscope, two opposite viewing perspectives make the objects undergo an impossible metamorphosis.
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About Kokichi Sugihara
Kokichi Sugihara received the Bachelor, Master, and Doctor of Engineering from the University of Tokyo in 1971, 1973 and 1980, respectively. He worked at the Electrotechnical Laboratory in the Ministry of International Trade and Industry of Japan, Nagoya University and the University of Tokyo before moving to the current position at Meiji University in 2009. His research area is mathematical engineering. Working on computer vision, he discovered a method to construct 3D objects from impossible drawings. He then extended his research interest to human vision and optical illusion. He won the first prize of the Best Illusion of the Year Contest three times (2010, 2013 and 2018) and finished second twice (2015 and 2016).
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FIGURE 1. The impossible objects in three different sizes photographed with a macro objective. A mirror gives a second perspective revealing the impossibility: The cylinders are rectangular and circular at the same time.