Elon Musk, the epitome of mad scientist and the supposed inspiration for Tony Stark, has just released a video detailing the type of 3D modeling that has only been seen in the Iron Man movies. Musk tweeted about his latest innovation just last week, which was made possible by the gesture-sensing Leap Motion controller.
To further demonstrate the technology’s prowess, he paired the modeling software with a variety of different display methods, including a 3D projector, a translucent glass display, and the new Oculus Rift VR headset. Based upon the recently released video, the intuitiveness of the setup is impressive in itself; giving users free reign to rotate and zoom-in on an object, using hand motions alone.
Although the technology is ideal for inspecting a pre-made product, there is no indication that designing a model from scratch is even possible. The video shows an in-depth look at scaling, rotating and cutting away existing meshes to reveal an extensive view at the product’s interior; however, the type of precision required to develop an accurate model might be unachievable using hand gestures alone. After all, traditional modeling software makes use of numerous menus and a vast array of hotkeys to produce a respectable commercial product.
Perhaps the most appealing thing about the whole concept is SpaceX’s ability to send the model to a metal extrusion machine for printing, which is essentially a 3D printer that pumps out prototypes using metal instead of plastic. These extremely expensive machines work by laying down fine particles of either titanium or inconel, and then going over these particles with a powerful laser to effectively melt the sheet overtop of the previous deposit.
Despite being an early-stage concept that looks to be several years, maybe even decades away from commercialization, Elon Musk continues to amaze the technology world by acting as the real-life embodiment of the illustrious Iron Man.