Have you ever stared at an M.C. Escher picture until you grew dizzy or simply marveled at the way Escher configured angles and drew objects to trick the eye? Well, there’s no question Escher is a master of illusion, beckoning us to an imaginary world of complexity and perspective that teaches the lesson that not everything is “as it seems.” Or, better yet, things can appear as more than one thing at different times depending on how you look at it. The lesson of the optical illusion is a tough one: things aren’t what you think they are. Or, more specifically, things can be more than one thing at the same time, and your mind and sight can be tricked by something rather simple in the end.
I am pretty sure that my first encounter with an optical illusion was the picture of the old woman/young woman illusion. If you take a neck for a chin, a young Victorian looking woman, glancing sideways, becomes an old woman with a very distinctive nose and face. Mastering the feat of designing images that can literally look different than what they are is the point of optical illusions, and it now appears that someone has achieved the impossible and printed an “impossible triangle” that has one of the bases of Escher’s work and a great challenge for mathematicians and physicists alike.
One interesting aspect of Escher’s optical illusions involves the mathematical conundrum of the “impossible” or “Penrose” triangle — an object that appears in Escher’s work, like his famous print “Waterfall” (see right). Recently the same illusion has been 3D printed, too. In 1934, the Swedish artist Oscar Reutersvärd created the first “impossible” or “Penrose” triangle and it was popularized in the 1950s by the mathematician Roger Penrose who explained that it is “impossibility in its purest form.”
Why is it impossible? Because it is a two-dimensional object made to look three dimensional — depending on the angle you perceive it at. An object of much fascination for science nerds, the impossible triangle presents itself as an object that seamlessly conjoins different sides of a triangle, but that depends on the angle you look at it.
The verdict is still out on whether this 3D printer succeeded in achieving the impossible. One “spoiler” in the post comments suggests that this is, of course, an optical illusion and if it was photographed at a different angle it would look quite different. The “spoiler” even claims that the original poster of the impossible triangle provided different photos on reddit (see below). Okay. But if the impossible triangle has always been impossible, doesn’t the original poster deserve some credit for 3D printing an illusion?
If you want to figure this out for yourself, you can download an STL file of an impossible triangle from Thingiverse. As one person commented, “you can see the mark of where it ends. Good illusion though.” And that appears true. There’s another version of an impossible triangle, also on Thingiverse, that relies more obviously on the viewing angle to preserve the illusion.
The creator of the 3D printed impossible triangle gets credit from me for an imaginative take on a illusory conundrum that has baffled some of the great artistic and scientific minds.
Have you 3D printed an optical illusion? Let us know how your impossible triangle — or other illusion — turns out! Tell us what you think over at the Impossible Triangle forum thread at 3DPB.com.
You May Also Like
Modular, Digital Construction System for 3D Printing Lightweight Reinforced Concrete Spatial Structures
Spatial structure systems, like lattices, are efficient load-bearing structures that are easy to adapt geometrically and well-suited for column-free, long-spanning constructions, such as hangars and terminals, and in creating free-form...
Thixotropy, Nanoclay and the Optimal Parameters of 3D Printed Concrete
In ‘The Effect of Material Fresh Properties and Process Parameters on Buildability and Interlayer Adhesion of 3D Printed Concrete,’ international authors strive to understand more about materials and parameters in...
Twikit Showcases Mass Customized Braces and Automotive Parts at Rapid 2019
Belgian mass customization software company Twikit showcased a number of mass customization cases and applications at RAPID + TCT 2019. The Twikit team was able to show BMW Group’s Mini...
An Indian Bioprinting Startup is Working on 3D Printed ‘Liquid Cornea’ for Corneal Grafts
In the last few years, there has been a continuous growth of bioprinting companies around the world, probably because the medical field is one of the most exciting industries taking...
View our broad assortment of in house and third party products.