Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Ping Fu and 3-D Printing
Last night the television news told a story about 3-D printing. The video showed printing underway of food - the menu items coming out of the printer as icing oozes from a pastry bag. NASA is hoping that 3-D printing will bring an entire mechanic's kit to astronauts from a toaster-sized printer supplied with soft ware to create every tool or spare part they might need. In an earthbound hospital 3-D printing can make replacement joints for spent knees and hips. In 3-D printing, the coordinates of the object to be printed are entered into software that sends three dimensional information to the printer. The "printing" is done on stocked material such as plastic, metal or flour and water. There are many smart people to credit for this astonishing development. One is Ping Fu, a woman whose story of her childhood in China during the Cultural Revolution is told in her book "Bend, Not Break: A Life in Two Worlds". Fu's difficult childhood as a conscript in camps and factories is followed by an astonishing immigration and success in America. She graduated in Computer Science & Economics from UCSD and went on to found Geomagic, one of the first 3-D graphics software developers in the United States. Recent controversy swirls around Fu fueled by Chinese critics of her account. Fu and her publisher, Portfolio Hardbook defend her story. I recommend "Bend, Not Break". The title is the advice given to her by her grandfather as he described bamboo in a storm.