Tag: ‘Printing’

‘Atomic pen’ writes with individual atoms

17 Oct 2008

Atom pen --
An Osaka University research team has demonstrated an "atomic pen" that can inscribe nano-sized text on metal by manipulating individual atoms on the surface.

According to the researchers, whose results appear in the October 17 edition of Science magazine, the atomic pen is built on a previous discovery that silicon atoms at the tip of an atomic force microscope probe will interchange with the tin atoms in the surface of a semiconductor sample when in close proximity. Using this atom-interchange phenomenon, the researchers were able to arrange individual silicon atoms one by one on a semiconductor surface to spell out the letters "Si." The writing process, which took about an hour and a half to complete, was conducted at room temperature.

The completed text measures 2 x 2 nanometers, which is roughly 40,000 times smaller than the width of the average human hair.

"It's not possible to write any smaller than this," said Masayuki Abe, a researcher involved in the project.

The ability to incorporate individual atoms into a surface could lead to a variety of advances in atomic scale technology, the researchers suggest. If used in chip manufacturing, for example, this technology could help build powerful computers the size of a wristwatch.

[Source: Asahi]

Shuetsu Sato tape signs at Nippori station

11 Sep 2007

Shuetsu Sato is a Japan Railways employee known for making complex, stylish signs and maps from strips of colored duct tape. For years, his work graced the walls and construction barriers at Shinjuku station while it underwent extensive renovations. Sato's creative use of tape has earned him quite a following, particularly online, and recent blog buzz has prompted some Japanese TV networks to take notice. This video from an NHK news magazine program profiles Sato and his work at Nippori station on Tokyo's Yamanote line, where his most recent work is currently on display.

The video begins with commentary about the online popularity of Sato's work. (At the 30-second mark, a screenshot of Pink Tentacle appears while the narrator describes the attention Sato's work has received on "overseas" blogs...!?!) From 1:00 to 2:00, Sato shows how it is done -- this is the highlight of the video, as it shows the degree of complexity involved in shaping tape into beautiful kanji. From 2:00 to 2:40, Sato laughs off some criticism he has received for the way his "?" character looks, and from 4:30 to 5:00, Sato demonstrates his techniques for creating rounded corners. At 5:30, one of the hosts tells Sato that bloggers have honored him by naming his font style "Shuetsu." He looks almost as if he might be impressed.

Here are a few photos of Sato's work at Nippori station:

Nippori signs made from tape --

Nippori signs made from tape --

Nippori signs made from tape --

Nippori signs made from tape --

Nippori signs made from tape --

Nippori signs made from tape --

Nippori signs made from tape --

Nippori signs made from tape --

Artificial bones made with 3D inkjet printers

13 Aug 2007

Custom artificial bone made on 3D inkjet printer -- Researchers from the Tissue Engineering Department at the University of Tokyo Hospital and venture company Next 21 are using 3D inkjet printers to produce tailor-made artificial bones for use in facial reconstructive surgery. Following initial trials performed on a Welsh corgi and 10 people over the past year and a half, the researchers are set to begin a more extensive second round of human testing this autumn.

To make an artificial bone with this technology, a 3D computer model of the bone is first created based on the patient's X-ray and CT scan data. The computer model is then sliced into a large number of cross-sections and the data is sent to a special 3D inkjet printer, which works sort of like an ordinary inkjet printer by transferring tiny droplets of liquid onto a surface. However, unlike ordinary printers that print on paper, this one prints onto thin layers of powdered alpha-tricalcium phosphate (alpha-TCP). The "ink" is a water-based polymer adhesive that hardens the alpha-TCP it comes into contact with. By repeatedly laying down the powder and printing successive layers on top of one another, the printer is able to physically reproduce the desired bone to an accuracy of one millimeter.

Strong, lightweight and porous, the printed bones have characteristics similar to natural bone, and because they are tailored to fit exactly where they need to go, they are quick to integrate with the surrounding bone. The printed bone is also designed to be resorbed by the body as the surrounding bone slowly grows into it and replaces it.

In initial human trials conducted between March 2006 and July 2007, the effectiveness and safety of the artificial bones were tested in plastic surgery operations performed on 10 male and female patients between the ages of 18 and 54. In the second round of trials beginning this autumn at 10 medical institutions across Japan, the researchers plan to print up and implant synthetic bones in 70 volunteer patients with face or skull bones that have been damaged or removed due to injury or surgery.

While the printed bones are still not considered strong enough to replace weight-bearing bones, they are ten times stronger than conventional artificial bones made from hydroxylapatite, a naturally occurring mineral that is also the main component of natural bone. The printed bones are also cheaper and easier to make than hydroxylapatite implants, which must be sintered, or heated to a high temperature to get the particles to adhere to each other. In addition to taking longer to produce, sintered implants also take longer for the body to resorb.

The next round of human trials will be conducted at Dokkyo Medical University, Saitama Medical University, Tokyo Dental College, University of Tokyo, Juntendo University, Tsurumi University, Kyoto University, Osaka Medical College, Kobe University and Osaka City General Medical Center.

The researchers hope to make the technology commercially available by 2010.

[Source: Fuji Sankei, The Chemical Daily]

Shinjuku station signage made with adhesive tape

19 Jul 2007

Shinjuku station signs made with duct tape --

If, over the past several years, you have had the privilege of joining the 3.3 million people that pass through Tokyo's Shinjuku station each day, you may have observed the work of Mr. Sato. A construction worker by trade, Sato uses strips of adhesive tape to create elaborate makeshift signs that help people navigate the temporary chaos of ongoing renovation work at Shinjuku station.

Shinjuku station signs made with duct tape --

Sato's signs, which feature a peculiarly attractive gothic font, are the focus of a 15-minute documentary video put together by TrioFour, a small group of independent filmmakers. The video, which can be seen in two parts here (part 1, part 2), consists mainly of a long interview with Sato, entirely in Japanese (no subtitles), but it also shows lots of photos of his work from 2004. The photos below are still shots taken from the video.

With his work at Shinjuku complete, Sato has boarded the Yamanote line and taken his adhesive tape sign creation skills to the now-under-renovation Nippori station. TrioFour followed him there and is working on a new documentary.


UPDATE: More photos HERE and HERE.


Shinjuku station signs made with duct tape --

Shinjuku station signs made with duct tape --

Shinjuku station signs made with duct tape --

Shinjuku station signs made with duct tape --

Shinjuku station signs made with duct tape --

Shinjuku station signs made with duct tape --

Shinjuku station signs made with duct tape --

Shinjuku station signs made with duct tape ---

[Via: Slashdot Japan]

Taberu Me: Peanuts as business cards

29 Jun 2007

TaberuMe edible business cards --

For people looking to liven up the formal rigamarole surrounding the exchange of business cards in Japan, Arigatou Co., Ltd., a company specializing in the sale of laser-etched food products, offers "Taberu Me" edible business cards printed on peanuts.

Laser-etched beans and nuts -- Taberu Me cards are created using Arigatou's high-grade CO2 laser engraver nicknamed "Shiawase-kun," which can etch up to 700 characters per second on hard organic materials like beans, nuts, rice and pasta and which has been optimized to print clean-looking logos, names and telephone numbers on the irregular surfaces of peanut shells.

As for the product name, Taberu means "eat" and Me could either be an abbreviation of meishi ("business card") or "me" in English, in which case Taberu Me would be saying "Eat me" -- a message you probably don't want to convey to your new business partner at the first meeting. Regardless, a set of 150 Taberu Me cards costs 5,800 yen (around $50), which is mere peanuts considering the lasting impression you will make on your new counterparts.

[Link: Taberu Me via Gizmodo Japan]

Heat-sensitive urinal stickers as bug spray marketing gimmick

14 Jun 2007

Heat-sensitive urinal stickers as marketing tool -- The marketing minds at Fumakilla, a pesticide manufacturer, have launched a gimmicky bug spray promotional campaign that makes use of heat-sensitive, color-changing stickers placed in urinals at public restrooms around Shinjuku station. Under ordinary, dry conditions, the special urinal stickers show a housefly in the crosshairs of a rifle scope, but as men take aim and relieve themselves on the stickers, the fly transforms into an advertising message.

The stickers are printed with a layer of special, heat-sensitive ink developed by Pilot Ink. When the sticker is exposed to a certain amount of heat, this layer of ink becomes transparent, revealing an advertisement printed underneath. Dai Nippon Printing, who manufactured the stickers for Fumakilla, designed them to withstand the rigors of being placed in a public urinal for extended periods of time. Fumakilla says that in addition to serving as a form of advertising, the stickers provide men with a convenient target to aim for when using urinals, which leads to a cleaner restroom environment.

The company has also launched a website featuring a simple Flash game called "Ippatsu Meichu," which allows players to test their fly-shooting skills in a virtual lavatory. Make sure not to make a mess, though, or you'll get a visit from the angry toilet lady.

[Source: IT Media]

QR code on shrimp crackers

05 Jun 2007

QR Ebi-sen -- Internet content creator Hertz has launched a new marketing service called "QR Ebi-sen," which allows companies and individuals to print QR code on shrimp crackers. QR code, a type of two-dimensional code that enjoys widespread use in Japan, connects users to mobile web content when they scan it with a QR code reader-equipped cellphone.

Using natural dye extracted from tamarind seeds, the QR code is printed on the smooth surface of white crackers provided by ebi senbei manufacturer Shimahide, whose factory is located in the city of Kanonji in Kagawa prefecture -- a place known for delicious ebi senbei. The resulting cracker has a high-contrast, high-quality image readable by a cellphone QR code scanner.

The price for the service starts at 10,000 yen ($85), with an additional fee based on the number of crackers printed. Visitors to the NET Marketing Forum held at Tokyo Midtown from June 6 to 7 will get the first taste of QR Ebi-sen courtesy of the Web Technology Corporation, who will be handing them out from their company booth.

[Source: Impress Watch]

Printing with DNA

05 Apr 2007

DNA --- Tokyo-based Ko-sin Printing has developed a printing process that allows authors to add a more personal touch to their printed works by using ink that includes their DNA.

Once DNA is extracted from a human (or animal) hair or nail sample provided by the author, it is blended with a special ink and used in the printing process. Ko-sin has already put the technology to use in some self-published autobiographies whose title pages are printed with ink that includes the author's DNA. Mixing DNA in with the ink does not alter the appearance of the page, the company says.

Ko-sin also claims it is possible to extract genetic information from materials printed using this process. When the company sent a sample page to a DNA laboratory, the lab technicians were able to isolate and extract the DNA from the page.

The patent-pending printing process was invented by Ko-sin's president, Mr. Yoshida, who drew upon his years of experience researching and developing ink. Ko-sin hopes the process will appeal to autobiographers who want to add value to their work by including their DNA, or to people who wish to insert the DNA of beloved pets into printed materials. The company is now investigating other potential applications.

[Source: GIGAZINE]

Nanotext: Holographic print gets 30 times finer

02 Feb 2007

Nanotext --- On February 1, Toppan Printing unveiled new nanotext printing technology for inserting microscopic text into holographic images. The company says they plan to use nanotext to provide an extra layer of security to their "Crystagram" holographic anti-counterfeit technology. Test production is set to begin later this month.

Toppan's holographic nanotext printing uses electron beams (EB) to print characters 30 times smaller than possible with existing "microtext" technology. With a resolution of about 100 nanometers, it is now possible to print more than 20 holographic characters in a space the width of a human hair (about 80 microns).

Holograms have long been used as an effective method for preventing the counterfeit of items ranging from gift certificates to credit cards to luxury brand products, but organizations find themselves locked into a race with counterfeiters that are quick to adopt new technologies. Nanotext, Toppan argues, provides the next hurdle for counterfeiters to overcome.

Toppan is now working on the technology necessary for mass production, and full market release is scheduled for autumn 2007. The company is aiming for first-year sales of 300 million yen ($2.5 million).

[Source: Toppan press release]