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Make Your Own Invisibility Cloak With a 3D Printer

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the now-you-see-it-now-you-don't dept.

Science 80

cylonlover writes "Invisibility cloaks have been around in various forms since 2006, when the first cloak based on optical metamaterials was demonstrated. The design of cloaking devices has come a long way in the past seven years, as illustrated by a simple, yet highly effective, radar cloak developed by Duke University Professor Yaroslav Urzhumov, that can be made using a hobby-level 3D printer."

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Meeting this professor (1)

Lord Lode (1290856) | about a year ago | (#43709739)

I'd love to meet this professor, and be like "what? did I hear something? who is there! I don't see anyone!"

Re:Meeting this professor (4, Insightful)

NonUniqueNickname (1459477) | about a year ago | (#43709909)

You will see him hiding behind a big off-white disc with holes in it. Call me a nitpicker, but to me "invisible" is the opposite of "visible", which is the defining characteristic of what we call visible light. Being being undetectable to 10GHz frequencies, while impressive in its own light (haha), is most certainly not invisibility.

Re:Meeting this professor (3, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#43710039)

Well, it's invisible to that spectrum. And if you're invisible to radar, it is a limited form of 'invisible'.

Besides, inradarible sounds stupid. :-P

Re:Meeting this professor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43710277)

Well, it's invisible to that spectrum. And if you're invisible to radar, it is a limited form of 'invisible'.

Besides, inradarible sounds stupid. :-P

Well the article says "As envisioned by Harry Potter"
That was for the visible spectrum. They never made any mention of whether or not it worked on other parts of the spectrum.

Point is, when you say "invisibility cloak" without a qualifier one should assume human visible wavelengths.

Re:Meeting this professor (1)

dcherryholmes (1322535) | about a year ago | (#43710901)

IIRC ever since Champions 4th edition you could buy your invisibility to specific sense groups, and vision was further subdivided into normal, IR/UV, and radar/radio. So *clearly* this counts as Invisibility, since it costs points.

Re:Meeting this professor (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year ago | (#43711007)

b-2 pilots approve.

Re:Meeting this professor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43711571)

Why not just call it a "stealth cloak." Stealth is already an accepted term for radar invisibility.

This is a hunk of plastic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43710081)

..that looks like a frisbee that got eaten by a dog.

This is a mashup of two overhyped technologies: 3-D printing and invisibility cloaks.

My fave is the endquote: "Devices such as Prof. Urzhumov's new cloak should hasten the day when such devices become integrated into consumer products."

Is ANYONE in a rush to make their consumer products invisible?

Re:This is a hunk of plastic... (4, Funny)

Lord Lode (1290856) | about a year ago | (#43710683)

I think it can be integrated in flying cars, to have invisible 3D-printed flying cars.

Re:This is a hunk of plastic... (1)

Reeses (5069) | about a year ago | (#43710989)

It can also be integrated into unmanned drones, to have radar-invisible unmanned drones. Convenient for popping over a border real quick and taking a look around without alerting local air forces.

ok (1)

doti (966971) | about a year ago | (#43712237)

as long as the car keys are not invisible too.

Re:This is a hunk of plastic... (1)

rjstanford (69735) | about a year ago | (#43713907)

I think it can be integrated in flying cars, to have invisible 3D-printed flying cars.

I believe that this is already the case. Leastwise, I've never seen one... have you?

Re:This is a hunk of plastic... (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | about a year ago | (#43719255)

Is ANYONE in a rush to make their consumer products invisible?

How about a stealthy invisabra for my car.

Re:Meeting this professor (2)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about a year ago | (#43710127)

simple, yet highly effective, radar cloak

I know they used the word 'invisibility' which implies visual, but they do identify it as being invisible to radar.

Re:Meeting this professor (1)

NonUniqueNickname (1459477) | about a year ago | (#43710203)

You make a good point. I can accept that it's "invisible" in the same sense that a radar "sees". It's still not a cloak!

Move along (5, Funny)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#43710271)

Nothing to see here

Re:Meeting this professor (2)

interval1066 (668936) | about a year ago | (#43710515)

Given that the visibility you're talking about is less than 10% of the entire spectrum, I'd disagree and say that invisibility to any particular part of the spectrum, especially the parts used for detection of any kind is pretty damned impressive.

Re:Meeting this professor (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about a year ago | (#43711991)

Less than 10% of infinity?

The electromagnetic spectrum doesn't exactly have an upper bounds (unless you count theoretical limits that are extremely likely to be disproven.

Re:Meeting this professor (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about a year ago | (#43712437)

Less than 10% of infinity?

Of course some one just HAS to bring in the theoretical limits of the subject and muddy my point. I'm an engineer, I deal in practicality. Don't you have something better to do?

Re:Meeting this professor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43723589)

You're right this tech isn't close, but failed to explain why. The window this thing is invisible in is .2 GHz (3 dB point from figure). At 10 GHz that bandwidth is only 1/50th of the wavelength. For visible light, this is equivalent to being invisible under a single color, say from a laser. To be invisible in light, you need to cover an entire octave (380 nanometres to 740 nanometres). That would be like being invisible from 5 GHz to 10 GHz in this experiment. They aren't even in the ball park for visual invisibility.

Re:Meeting this professor (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#43710985)

Call me a nitpicker, but to me "invisible" is the opposite of "visible", which is the defining characteristic of what we call visible light. Being being undetectable to 10GHz frequencies, while impressive in its own light (haha), is most certainly not invisibility.

I DON'T see what you did there! "Being partially invisible by being undetectable..."
Haha, Good One!

You're right, full EM spectrum cloaking is out of our grasp at present, and the fact that you can print a sub-light frequency invisibility cloak with a hobby grade 3D printer pales in comparison to making multiple words disappear at broadband speeds with a high tech computing device. My hat's off to you good sir!

I wonder other are in there?
I , but can't tell am doing right.

Re:Meeting this professor (1)

nschubach (922175) | about a year ago | (#43711471)

Suddenly, large off-white disc shaped vehicles will be sought after for speed enthusiasts!

Doesn't abscense imply presence? (1)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | about a year ago | (#43709763)

Wouldn't this be similar to black holes in that although you can't see them, behavior of stars around them and energy emanating from them suggest that they are there?

Re:Doesn't abscense imply presence? (3, Informative)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year ago | (#43709941)

Radar is very 1 dimensional. A radio wave, imagined as a vector or ray, bounces off the material and then back at the receiving dish. If it doesn't, nothing is there as far as they can tell. However, if you broadcast on one side of the material and then received on the opposite side with a grid of multiple receivers, that might give away that something is there.

Though I think with this cloak, you wouldn't know specifically where it is. Radio waves warping around it would be received but not in the correct location unless you projected a grid of frequencies directly at it and then watched what geometric pattern they were received in then reversed it. You wouldn't know the object's exact location otherwise. Any cloak that simply makes the radar waves disappear though would show up easily. I believe this one does wrap the waves around though, instead of just absorbing them, just they wouldn't arrive quite correctly aligned on the other side the way they would if there was no object there so like I said, a grid would tell you the radar waves are being bent by something.

Re:Doesn't abscense imply presence? (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about a year ago | (#43710189)

Modern AESA radars [wikipedia.org] do not have single transmit-receive elements but are arrays of many elements. Modern fleets and air combat wings also usually share the radar data via datalinks so they have information of more than one radar available.

Re:Doesn't abscense imply presence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43710263)

Bad Analogy time. Imagine standing in pitch black desert with a laser pointer as your only source of light. You search by spinning around in place. The laser doesn't reflect back enough for you to see it normally. But if something get in range you'll see the point reflected back at you and you can gain some knowledge of what the beam hit based on size of reflection and brightness. But what if it hit something that absorb all the light? Then you wouldn't see it at all and assume the light just travel out of view. It's the same with radar.

Re:Doesn't abscense imply presence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43710461)

Where's the damn car?!?!

Re:Doesn't abscense imply presence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43711639)

Being shot at with the laser...

Re:Doesn't abscense imply presence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43710349)

The point of the cloak is that no waves are reflected, they carry on their merry way as if nothing was there to begin with. so in your example they don't return the to the receiver.

IIRC, and this was back when these things first appeared (no pun intended), it's difficult/impossible to make a cloak that works with every frequency of the EMS so you're right that firing multiple emmisions from radio through to gamma at the clock will give away it's position... but that's quite an undertaking to detect something.

Re:Doesn't abscense imply presence? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43710025)

Read up on how they work ;-)

In short, no, they're not like blackholes.

The principle behind them is that emmissons heading into the cloak are routed around the object and then leave, and here's the clever bit, in a direction and intensity equal to what would happen if the invisible object wasn't there.

A drawback of this is, if you were building your cloak on the observable spectrum, if your inside the cloak you can't see anything outside of it (as all the incoming light gets diverted around you)! Admittedly it's only a draw back if looking around you is important, there's good reasons not to care and cool applications e.g. building a sea platform that is invisible to incoming waves (google it, my brain hurts from remembering so much already)

Re:Doesn't abscense imply presence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43710447)

But this would, in theory, be a cloak only in specific ranges of the physics spectrum.

You've seen it in sci-fi and so on about races going to the extremes to cloak their ships and using all sorts of weird methods or cyclic methods to cloak their ships.
It is essentially the same thing that would need to be done in reality to hide some "perfectly".
You just need a cyclic cloak that operates as a speed faster than the enemies detectors.

But the problem is, so far, we have only been able to really make low-range cloaks and just recently multi-range frequencies.
Making one that is dynamic will be extremely hard. And making it repeatable at fast speeds even more so.
Many decades away from that for now.

Cloak (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43709787)

Can you see me now?

Apparently it works (1)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | about a year ago | (#43709797)

I read about it a week ago, but I think nobody could see it back then...

Sir, there might be a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43709837)

"Yaroslav Urzhumov with the 3D-printed invisibility cloak developed at Duke University"
I guess the invisible cloak is white.

It isn't a cloak. (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year ago | (#43709867)

It isn't a cloak, it's a frisbee with some badly made holes in it.

Re:It isn't a cloak. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43710963)

Yeah, but 3D printing. It's the future. Of the species. In space. Or something.

Re:It isn't a cloak. (1)

Arker (91948) | about a year ago | (#43712451)

Well, to be fair, it is a cloaking device. Much larger than the device it would cloak, and it only cloaks from microwaves, which are not the most common electromagnetic waves you would want to cloak yourself from. The size issues, and covering the rest of the spectrum (including radar and visible light) is supposedly a matter of engineering now. Time will tell.

endless possibilities (3, Funny)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#43709897)

"ahhhhh, 3D printers, is there anything they can't do"

"certainly Homer, they can't make doughnuts"

!!!!

".....stupid 3D printers......."

Re:endless possibilities (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43709965)

I'm gonna use one to make a 3D printed invisible gun!

Bwhahahahahahahahahaha!

Re:endless possibilities (1)

freeze128 (544774) | about a year ago | (#43711219)

This link proves you wrong!

http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:25897 [thingiverse.com]

Re:endless possibilities (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43711623)

If you have a frostruder, you can "print" a donut shape using donut dough. With a conveyor belt-style build platform, the dough can be dropped into hot oil upon completion of the print.

Re:endless possibilities (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#43734511)

no, too much air between the strings of dough will make a kind of fritter rather than a donut upon frying.

plunger driven doughnut maker or doughnut dough cutter is the way to go

Harry Potter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43709913)

the big brother's worst nightmare. he is invulnerable to all surveillance camera and wiretaps.

I followed the instructions... (5, Funny)

Skiron (735617) | about a year ago | (#43709925)

...but now I can't find my 3D printer

Re:I followed the instructions... (1)

Morose1 (586302) | about a year ago | (#43716169)

Daredevil... is that you?

As envisioned by... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43709933)

"As envisioned by Harry Potter"? Really? I think generations of science fiction and fantasy writers might have a word or two to say about that.

But how... (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about a year ago | (#43709949)

...do I print out the Marauder's Map?

Re:But how... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#43710089)

You probably won't learn those spells until at least your 4th year at Hogwart's, and you might need to find some people who are pretty skilled at magic and mischief (and maybe even turning themselves into an animagus). ;-)

Re:But how... (1)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | about a year ago | (#43710753)

Repeat after me: "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good". Gee, read the manual!

Ready made missile cloak? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43710033)

It seems like it would be pretty easy to make a missile covering with this.

Re:Ready made missile cloak? (1)

egcagrac0 (1410377) | about a year ago | (#43710339)

Let's make it personally relevant.

Inform me when they've got one I attach to a Ducati, to make it invisible to radar.

Re:Ready made missile cloak? (2)

supervillainsf (820395) | about a year ago | (#43712805)

Why would you need to be invisible to radar to hang out in front of Starbucks?

Great! (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about a year ago | (#43710213)

Great! Now I can make my new 3D gun invisible

Holster (1)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#43710251)

Can I make a holster out of this and carry my Glock through the scanners at the airport? No need to print a stupid plastic gun.

I'm just asking this to get crazy California legislators' panties in a bunch.

Re:Holster (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#43710739)

I'm guessing it's possible if you can tune it to the frequencies used by the scanners and make it spherical to hide the gun inside.

Re:Holster (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43710781)

The person inspecting the images might wonder why you have a hole through your hip. :)
Since the airport scanners are looking at the shape of the surface of your body, you need to do more than make an area (and everything behind it) "invisible". You'd need a structure that would reflect back the scanner signal in exactly the way to mimic a flat patch of flesh underneath, which is trickier than just scattering out the waves so very few head back towards the detector. The simpler method is just to have a fake fat belly, with the gun embedded inside the rolls of pseudoflesh.

Re:Holster (1)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#43713091)

The simpler method is just to have a fake fat belly,

Nothing fake about it.

Defense implications (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43710329)

I am curious about the long term defense implications of this development; certainly it's present iteration isn't likely to be used for stealth in a military setting anytime soon, but it does seem that this development has the potential to significantly lower the barriers to entry for stealth technology. It also seems that this might open up new, previously impossible applications for stealth. For instance, stealth munitions, such as missiles, would be potentially very difficult to defend against.

Re:Defense implications (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about a year ago | (#43711389)

or more practical cars that are invisible to police radar speed guns. speed with impunity.

Practical applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43710381)

Plastic molds that make your vehicle invisible to police radar guns would be quite useful.

Re:Practical applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43710859)

Plastic molds that make your vehicle invisible to police radar guns would be quite useful.

... or you could, you know, just not speed. It would be cheaper.

Oh No.... What DHS gonna do now? (1)

3seas (184403) | about a year ago | (#43710503)

Between the printable weaponry and this printable cloak..... Maybe those who create enemies need to stop doing that.
Hmmm, now I wonder if mods will cloak me...

Re:Oh No.... What DHS gonna do now? (1)

egcagrac0 (1410377) | about a year ago | (#43710561)

I wonder if mods will cloak me...

Who said that?

Re:Oh No.... What DHS gonna do now? (2)

Dept. Homeland Sec. (2922287) | about a year ago | (#43710759)

As soon as I print a new cloak, I am coming after you! (Obama took my other one.)

Re:Oh No.... What DHS gonna do now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43715079)

Modded (-1, Cloaked)

Hobbit-level? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43710635)

For a moment I read "can be made using a hobbit-level 3D printer".

Re:Hobbit-level? (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#43711101)

For a moment I read "can be made using a hobbit-level 3D printer".

Well, hobbit bodies have a different refractive index than the pex material used here, It might get a bit gruesome, but you can use the same basic principal in TFA with hobbits.

Off to craft a new one-ring, I take it?

I wonder if we can make an invisible gun... (1)

Alejux (2800513) | about a year ago | (#43710723)

Want to take my guns?! You'll have to find them!!!

Kids! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43710869)

Hey, the kids cloaked my car keys again! I'll have to use the visible spectrum to find them!

Regulate 3D Printing Now! (2)

misexistentialist (1537887) | about a year ago | (#43710921)

Before the terrorists and pedophiles use it to hide their crimes.

it's for radar only (2)

Jacek Poplawski (223457) | about a year ago | (#43710933)

You can see him through the holes. It works for radar not for human eyes.

Re:it's for radar only (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43713019)

You're laughing now, but when people are using their radar-enhanced mask [slashdot.org] to find those protected by a visible-light cloak, you won't be laughing.

What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43711221)

Invisibility cloaks have been around in various forms since 2006...

No they haven't. I think the definition of "invisibility" is pretty loosely defined then, isn't it?

Not Verifiable (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about a year ago | (#43711231)

So, ua, I looked for the download to verify the claim; nothing. I guess someone at Duke is, self medicating?

OMG!!! (1)

Cosgrach (1737088) | about a year ago | (#43711597)

First undetectable plastic guns printed on a 3D printer.

Now we can have undetectable assassins as well.

Ninjas are now obsolete.

There ought to be a law against this sort of thing. Won't someone PLEASE think of the Children?!?!?

picture (1)

ZiggyStardust1984 (1099525) | about a year ago | (#43711717)

picture or it didn't happen

this is for future products (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43712385)

Most comments beeline to a fairy tale of making something invisible. Meanwhile, it simply made microwave frequency disappear. I just tore my 12 year old microwave apart to shut off that damn loud beeping speaker every time I use it, and realized.. nothing stops the waves for people around it but metal. I look forward to what safe things they do with this cloaking material.

Don't anybody tell Leland Yee about this (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#43714219)

Be careful not to tell Californian senator Leland Yee, he is already throwing a fit about 3D printed guns, if you tell him that an INVISIBILITY CLOAK can be printed with a 3D printer, then that's it, the guy will have a freaking heart attack while pushing for a bill that would declare 3D printers military grade technology that must be strictly prohibited for civilian use.

I can imagine him talking about it: they will have 3D printed guns and they will put on their 3D printed invisibility cloaks and then they'll take over Washington without us even noticing!

A special message (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43717181)

And here is a special announcement for all you students who attended Doctor DeKoots "Roots of Religion" lecture.

You are hereby ordered to destroy all lecture notes and sewing patterns for the so-called "Cloak of Invisibility" in the Dean's bonfire pit, right after chapel.

Not enough detail (1)

JeanCroix (99825) | about a year ago | (#43722001)

A 1/5 energy reduction is the equivalent of -7dBsm, hardly what would be considered invisible in the radar world. And whatever you're trying to hide has to fit entirely within the cylinder, whose size is almost certainly dictated by frequency - the larger you make it, the lower the narrow frequency it hides from. Aside from that, there's no information given on co- or cross-polarization measurements. And only one look angle was measured - i.e., it only works from edge-on. Tilt the disk a little and there goes your reduction.
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