Has the “Impossible Triangle” Been Made Possible with 3D Printing?

Share this Article

penrose-impossible-triangle

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 “impom_c_escher_selected_waterfallssible 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.

iolate-the-laws-of-physics-today

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? WGk9LDL

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.

Share this Article


Recent News

What is Metrology Part 19 – Moire Effect in 3D Printing

3D Printing and ABS Recycling: Assessing Virgin and Re-used Filament



Categories

3D Design

3D Printed Art

3D Printed Food

3D Printed Guns


You May Also Like

Tunisia: Researchers 3D Print Optimized Car Leaf Spring out of Carbon PEEK

Authors Amir Kessentini, Gulam Mohammed Sayeed Ahmed, and Jamel Madiouli have performed research and analysis after 3D printing a car part, with their findings outlined and recently published in ‘Design...

Interview with Massimo Bricchi of Kuraray on 3D Printing Biodegradable Materials

Massimo Bricchi Massimo Bricchi is Kuraray Europe‘s Regional Marketing Manager. The company is involved in the production of chemicals and resins, fibers and textiles, high-performance material, and medical products. In...

Robot Factory Introduces Sliding-3D Conveyor Belt System for High-Temperature 3D Printing

Over the last several years, 3D printers that use conveyor belts as limitless build platforms have been growing more popular. In 2017, Italian company Robot Factory launched its own FFF...

Mimaki USA and Sindoh Introduce New 3DFF-222 Desktop 3D Printer

In 2015, Mimaki USA, an operating entity of Japanese company Mimaki Engineering, announced that it would begin development of its own full color 3D printer, which was then previewed two years later. The company...


Shop

View our broad assortment of in house and third party products.


Print Services

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our 3DPrint.com.

You have Successfully Subscribed!