Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh, The Loh Down on Science is a fun way to get your daily dose of science plus a dash of humor in less than two minutes.
Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh
Airs Weekdays 2:31, 3:31 and 5:49 a.m.

Getting bugs out of printers is a high-tech process

Can you do bug research, Kafka style?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

You’ve heard of 3-D printers.  They use foam or other material to build three-dimensional objects, layer by layer.  Input the measurements of a spoon?  The printer can build one.  Tweak your measurements, and make a sport!  Or just make the spoon bigger! 

This gave bug scientists with the Australian government, ideas.  Their agency has vast insect collections—460,000 specimens!  But?  They’re small.  So the entomologists thought:  Let’s make ‘em bigger!  Just to play around.  I mean, to experiment.

So they optically scanned bugs.  This produced measurements for computer aided design, or CAD, software.  They entered these CAD files into a 3-D printer.

And?  The printer made big bugs!  Fist sized!  Forty times bigger than normal!  In titanium, with pretty, iridescent colors.

The scientists say the models could reveal aspects of each insect otherwise too minute to examine.

Or . . . they could make you wake up one morning from unsettling dreams to find yourself turned into a giant cockroach.  You never know.

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The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, in partnership with the University of California, Irvine, and 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.