Disney uses 3D printing to make "impossible" spinning tops

More goodness to come from this weekeend’s SIGGRAPH computer graphics conference, but this time it’s from Disney Research. You may remember them such amazing projects as turning your whole body into a touch screen, creating an interactive object from a door knob, and cloning your face to put it on a robot.

Now, a team led by Moritz Bächer has taken on the long-held belief that tops should be fat at the top and round at the bottom. (I’m just kidding.) But the idea is brilliant. If you can absolutely control how an object’s mass is distributed, then you can also manipulate its center of gravity. That allows you to decide which areas of an object are heaver than the rest, and hence, make all kinds of strange and wonderful spinning objects that would normally topple over immediately.

The result will make Fantasia fans smile. Breakdancing armadillos, twisting elephants, and pirouetting fat men bound forth. You can create the model with a computer and then print it with a 3D printer. Now your children will be happy and you can explain the joys of rotational dynamics to them. (Or even one better, have them read Disney Research’s paper.)

To date, the world of open-source hardware has either skewed aesthetic or practical, but toys are clearly one arena that are perfect for 3D printing. Disney Research already has a prototype of 3D-printing of teddy bears so clearly toy delivery on demand is in the near future. At the very least, it’ll save parents the trouble of sating their children with multiple runs to the store.

[H/T Techcrunch]