When we think of 3D printing applications, we usually think of something tangible we can use in everyday life. With 3D printing changing manufacturing as we know it, that's already a reality, even if the complexity of some items requires a printer not yet ready for the home market. But what about more offbeat objects that still have an edge of usefulness, yet don't fit the immediate criteria for being something practical?
Nobody thought printing out data would be something that could potentially be beneficial for statistics as well as being a piece of art. 3D printers, though, can make a lot of things we didn't think could be printed come to life. Now a U.K. artist has managed to take graphical data from the World Cup and printed it out on a 3D printer to give a tangible replica of statistics. Called a very British "Sporting Forms", it shows algorithms on how many goals were accomplished at this year's World Cup, plus other soccer data typically viewed on a computer.
When printed, it turns into a beautiful piece of art that shows miniature spikes representing the algorithms. It's something that hasn't been done often with statistics, though scientific data has already been printed before in other sciences. By doing this again, it gives a more interesting view of data and allows tangible examination almost as if it's a practical item on its own.
Through this, we also see another example of being able to visualize the world in a new way thanks to 3D printers manifesting things that couldn't be tangible before. Will we see more data and algorithms 3D-printed here in America before long as a new way to store data records?
What Other Data Could be Printed?
The intention of the 3D print of World Cup algorithms above was to create a visual representation of the game for posterity. Will we do the same for other data that represents something significant? It could happen to more data related to us as in medical records or financial information. Imagine being able to print out graphical data about the success of your business and keep it as a memento as well as a piece of art for display.
Things that were once intangible are now being realized tangibly through 3D printing and reminding us that art is in everything. The only thing left is being able to take our thoughts and place them into a 3D printer to have things like dreams realized in full dimensional glory. While that's still a long way off (if theoretical), it's something to think about as 3D printing progresses to an exponential level almost every month.