I'd say it's nothing concrete, but maybe food for thought.3-D Printing Is So Last Year: MIT’s “Self-Assembling Sand” Builds Objects Instantlyhttp://www.fastcodesign.com/1669426/mit-developing-self-asse...If Terminator 2 taught us anything, it was that a properly timed thumbs-up can make us cry. Also, autonomous, self-shaping blobs are a must-have on our checklist for the future.Now, MIT professor Daniela Rus and student Kyle Gilpin are publishing a paper on building such a wonder goop. They tend to refer to the technology as a smart "sand,” and they imagine scenario in which you could drop a small model into a vat of the sand, and the sand could sense that model’s contours and create a 3-D version of the object from that information. So you could drop in a tiny cup, the sand would sense the cup’s negative space and then it would shape into a cup that was 10x (or much more) larger. ...That said, the technology’s promise is massive. You could build structures that were far smarter than even our most advanced 3-D printed parts (even those that we’re using within the human body), that can respond and adapt to their environment. “In addition to duplication, I would see our modules used for sensing tasks in constrained spaces,” writes Gilpin. “Perhaps you could pour our modules down a pipe in order to both map the shape of the pipe while finding defects or cracks. The modules could potentially help reinforce those weak points…Because it can self-disassemble, perhaps it could be used as an intelligent scaffolding for bone, or even organ, regrowth. The system could sense and relay important information to doctors and then disassemble as the bone healed.”Gilpin knows that the technology is a ways off, believing it to be closer to a 10-year vision than a five-year one. In other words, this self-assembling sand could be waiting for us right where 3-D printing leaves off.
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