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Chuck Hull: o pai da impressão 3D que moldou a tecnologia

Chuck Hull: O Pai Da Impressão 3D Que Moldou A Tecnologia

Hull sabia que sua invenção levaria até 30 anos para chegar às casas das pessoas. Hoje as possibilidades parecem infinitas.

Embora medido e deliberado em suas respostas, há um momento em que o baixinho Chuck Hull, conhecido como o pai da impressão 3D, conta sua surpresa sobre o que exatamente sua criação era capaz de alcançar.

Em 1996, cirurgiões do centro médico de Wilford Hall, no Texas, trabalhando para separar um casal de gêmeos juntos, pensaram que apenas um seria capaz de andar após a operação. Depois que um modelo da estrutura óssea das meninas foi gerado usando a impressão 3D, eles descobriram que o osso da coxa era maior que o esperado e o dividiu com sucesso, resultando em ambos os gêmeos capazes de andar.

Hull disse: “Isso é extremamente difícil para os cirurgiões, descobrir como eles separarão os dois gêmeos para que você tenha duas pessoas que vivem separadamente. Quando algumas dessas cirurgias foram realizadas pela primeira vez com a ajuda de nossa tecnologia, foi realmente comovente para mim. “

Agora com 75 anos e ainda trabalhando como diretor de tecnologia da 3D Systems , a empresa que ele fundou, Hull está desfrutando de uma pequena celebridade 31 anos depois de imprimir pela primeira vez um pequeno copo de lavagem de olhos pretos usando um novo método de fabricação chamado estereolitografia, agora conhecido como impressão 3D.

Desenho de patente de uma impressora 3D francesa abandonada. Fonte: static1.squarespace.com

 

Na época, ele trabalhava para uma empresa que usava luz UV para colocar finas camadas de folheados de plástico em mesas e móveis. Como outros da indústria, ele ficou frustrado porque a produção de pequenas peças plásticas para a criação de protótipos de novos produtos poderia levar até dois meses.

Ele tinha uma idéia de que, se pudesse colocar milhares de finas camadas de plástico umas sobre as outras e depois gravar sua forma usando a luz, ele seria capaz de formar objetos tridimensionais. Depois de um ano mexendo em idéias em um laboratório nos bastidores, depois de horas, ele desenvolveu um sistema em que a luz brilhava em um tanque de fotopolímero – um material que muda de líquido para sólido como plástico quando a luz brilha nele – e traça a forma de um nível do objeto. As camadas subsequentes são impressas até a conclusão.

Depois de patentear a invenção em 1986, ele montou a 3D Systems para comercializar o novo método de produção e partiu para garantir o financiamento – eventualmente recebendo US $ 6 milhões de um investidor canadense – e os clientes, usando fitas de vídeo. para mostrar o equipamento. O primeiro produto comercial foi lançado em 1988 e provou ser um sucesso entre os fabricantes de automóveis, no setor aeroespacial e para empresas que projetam equipamentos médicos.

Logo a General Motors e a Mercedes-Benz estavam usando a tecnologia da 3D Systems – a empresa vendia impressoras, materiais e software – para criar protótipos, mas foram os desenvolvimentos na medicina que o surpreenderam, como quando modelos antes da cirurgia poderiam ser criados. “Isso foi surpreendente para mim, que alguém usou a tecnologia assim.”

Quando Hull originalmente inventou sua invenção, ele disse à esposa que levaria entre 25 e 30 anos para que a tecnologia chegasse em casa. Essa previsão se mostrou correta, pois a perspectiva realista de impressoras 3D comerciais difundidas só surgiu nos últimos anos.

As possibilidades parecem infinitas – de alimentos e produtos farmacêuticos impressos em casa a sugestões de que fotos de cerâmica poderão ser tiradas em lojas e depois recriadas usando planos baixados da Internet.

Hull, um homem despretensioso que tem 93 patentes em seu nome nos EUA e 20 na Europa, diz que está “humilhado” pelas possibilidades, mas deixa de prever o que sua tecnologia poderia eventualmente oferecer, embora ele esteja confiante de que as impressoras possam estar em breve. toda casa.

“É bom obter algum reconhecimento, foi muito trabalho duro, mas, além disso, continuo trabalhando”, disse ele na semana passada em Berlim, onde recebeu o European Inventor Award.

Surgiu controvérsia com a possibilidade de que armas possam ser produzidas usando impressão 3D, novamente usando plantas baixadas da Internet. Um grupo chamado Defense Distributed no ano passado testou com sucesso uma arma impressa em 3D no Texas . Hull disse: “Meu primeiro pensamento é que as pessoas mexem com isso – espero que não se machuquem. Construir e testar armas dessa natureza pode ser perigoso. Acho que as pessoas que estão fazendo isso estão tentando fazer questão”.

“Não sei se as pessoas vão imprimir armas em todo o mundo, mas, de qualquer forma, nossa empresa, não somos o governo ou as agências policiais. São mais os negócios e toda a tecnologia, os governos e a polícia precisam esteja ciente [de], não é apenas a impressão 3D “.

Depois de descobrir que a aposentadoria não era para ele, Hull retornou à empresa que ele co-fundou e agora é vice-presidente e diretor de tecnologia, e detém ações no valor de US $ 20 milhões. No ano passado, a 3D Systems faturou mais de US $ 500 milhões e possui três bases no Reino Unido, em Hemel Hempstead, High Wycombe e Clevedon. Novos sistemas de impressão 3D surgiram ao longo dos anos e várias outras empresas foram adicionadas à estável 3D Systems.

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