3D Printing the Impossible: A Penrose Triangle

An impossible object is a two-dimensional figure that, at first glance, looks like a real 3D object. However, further inspection will lead to the conclusion that the object can’t actually exist in 3D. One famous example of this is the Penrose triangle. The concept was used in M.C. Escher’s famousĀ Waterfall, and you might also recognize it as Digilent’s logo.

 

So it’s an impossible object that can’t exist in 3D? Well, the MakerBot 3D printer we have in the Digilent MakerSpace is so awesome that it can make it exist in 3D! Check it out in the picture below.

My 3D-printed Penrose triangle next to the Digilent logo.
My 3D-printed Penrose triangle next to the Digilent logo.

Alright, I may be exaggerating a little bit. As awesome as the MakerBot is, it still has to obey physics like the rest of us. The 3D-printed version is an optical illusion. It looks like a Penrose triangle at a certain angle, but at any other angle it just looks like an awkwardly shaped piece of plastic. The GIF below shows how it works. So I haven’t printed an impossible object (yet). But it’s still pretty cool, eh?

Exposing the truth!
Exposing the truth!

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