Albert Einstein Honored With the First Book to Be 3D Printed in One Piece

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Ron Arad with a prototype of his 3D printed book [Image: Helen Hatzis]

Albert Einstein may never have heard of 3D printing, but the 3D printing community is a big fan of his work. When his theory about gravitational waves was finally proven to be true last year, the historical moment was commemorated with a special 3D print, and this year, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the publication of Einstein’s theory of relativity, he’s getting a book. No, not just a book written about him – he has plenty of those already – but a book 3D printed about him. In the shape of his face. That’s not something artist Ron Arad would do for just anyone.

Arad is an industrial designer, artist and architect who is just one of the luminaries participating in the Albert Einstein Legacy Project. The project was launched to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the theory of relativity, which was last year, and it also includes the establishment of the Einstein Archives, Research and Visitor Center in Jerusalem and the upcoming Next Einstein Competition, which will kick off with an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for “Largest Gathering of People Dressed as Albert Einstein.” Arad’s book is called Genius: 100 Visions of the Future, and will contain contributions from some of today’s greatest leaders, thinkers and icons, including eight Nobel laureates: Shinya Yamanaka, Steven Chu, Dan Schectman, Jean-Marie Lehn, Sir Harold Kroto, François Englert, Roger D. Kornberg, and Robert J. Aumann. Among other contributors are architect Frank Gehry, former astronaut Chris Hadfield, singer/actress Barbra Streisand, geneticist J. Craig Venter, United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, authors Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Paulo Coehlo, and artist Marina Abramovic.

[Image: Ron Arad Studios]

An international committee has been overseeing the process of choosing contributors, who must meet criteria in certain categories such as leadership, influence, innovation and genius. And speaking of genius, the book is entirely 3D printed, pages and all.

“When I began designing this book, I thought, we are dealing with the Einstein legacy — let’s do something that’s relatively new,” said Arad. “That [led] to the creation of this book, where the two-dimensional pages form a three-dimensional portrait. I wanted the design of this book to reflect the legacy of Albert Einstein and I think the honor of the world’s first 3D-printed book is suited to nobody better than one of history’s greatest minds.”

Technically, there have been books 3D printed before, but they’ve mostly been for the purpose of creating tactile reading experiences for the visually impaired, which 3D printing lends itself well to, and they’ve been printed in pieces and then assembled. Arad’s book is going to be 3D printed all in one piece – a first as far as I know. It’s going to be quite a project – each book will require a 12-hour print time plus cool-off, so it’s understandable that it will only be a limited print run.

[Image: Kendra Pierre-Louis]

“One of the biggest challenges is to get this printed in one single piece. With 3D printing, you can achieve shapes that you couldn’t using injection molding processes,” said Marcus Hirst, Head of Design at Ron Arad Studio. “But in this instance, we’re looking at pages that are very close together — so close that the machine can regard them as one surface and start to fuse pieces together.”

The shape is the key – the book is going to be 3D printed in the shape of Einstein’s head, crazy hair and all. The project didn’t even start out as a book – it was going to be a simple 3D printed bust, but then Arad got the idea to turn it into a book. It will be 100 pages, with each contributor getting one page and flexible polyamide forming the “paper” of each page. The pages will actually be printed around the words, which will be formed by negative spaace. Arad was originally going to print mechanical hinges for the book’s spine, but because of the flexibility of the polyamide, the pages will serve as their own hinges. The book will be printed with selective laser sintering.

Only 300 of the books will be printed – one of them in zero gravity on the International Space Station. The book’s official (Earthbound) launch will be on September 10 at the Dinner of the Century in Montreal, which will bring together the contributors to the book’s content for a celebration of Einstein’s legacy. Proceeds will go to the Einstein Archives, Research and Visitor Center and the Next Einstein Competition. Discuss in the Einstein forum at 3DPB.com.

[Sources: Lindau Nobel, Popular Science]

 

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