Amazing But True: Expert Forecasts You Will Hold Your Breath for 4 Hours

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In the future - perhaps as soon as 20 years hence -- billions of volumetric pixels (voxals) will be simply manufactured and programmed to conform to users' needs: a bed that can be used at night that then reforms itself to be a desk or kitchen table during the day. When the technology for voxals is ready, the nanomachines are likely to be "printed" using the type of additive fabrication systems currently deployed to produce non-mold prototypes and low-volume direct digital manufactured parts.

An expert in nanomanufacturing says that researchers are developing molecular-sized machines that in our lifetimes will allow humans to live without a fresh intake of oxygen for as much as four hours.

That means that underwater swimmers will need no special equipment to stay down for hours on end and that heart attack victims will be able to leisurely make their way to a hospital to receive treatment.

This is not science fiction, according to Boris Fritz, an aerospace engineer, who outlined the potential uses of these so-called "respirocytes" during his remarks at RAPID 2008, a conference and exhibition sponsored by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME).

Fritz believes that respirocytes - which function as artificial red blood cells capable of transporting oxygen and carbon dioxide throughout the body - could replace 10% of actual human blood cells to provide the extra four hours of intake-free, life-sustaining oxygen.

A video interview with Fritz is available now on the Low-Volume Manufacturers Association site at http://www.l-vma.org.

Fritz is a senior engineer technical specialist in the Materials & Processes Laboratory at Northrop Grumman Corp. He is also founder and a past chairman of SME's Nanomanufacturing Technical Group.

When the technology for respirocytes is ready, the nanomachines are likely to be "printed" using the type of additive fabrication systems currently deployed to produce non-mold prototypes and low-volume direct digital manufactured parts.

Fritz told RAPID 2008 and L-VMA that he also is excited about the ability to use additive fabrication systems to produce programmable material - sometimes called utility fog or foglets - that can change shape, feel and bond based upon a user's needs.

As Fritz explained, in the future - perhaps as soon as 20 years hence -- billions of volumetric pixels (voxals) will be simply manufactured and programmed to conform to users' needs: a bed that can be used at night that then reforms itself to be a desk or kitchen table during the day.

Likewise, Fritz envisions a more distant future in which programmable material is used to build homes that can be 'remodeled' at will and holodeck-like rooms where the interiors can reshape themselves to match almost any desired scenery - including to-the-touch accurate human models.

"This isn't virtual reality," Fritz notes. "It is more like real, reality, because it is made of foglets," he says.

Dean Rotbart, founder and director of L-VMA, says that Fritz highlights the fact that the additive fabrication industry - which most people think of as dealing with industrial prototypes and parts - is on the cutting edge of 21st Century technological advances. "Talk about undiscovered potential, the additive fabrication industry has the potential to make the Internet look so 'yesterday'," Rotbart says. "Investors, entrepreneurs and journalists who want to see tomorrow today should be talking to RAPID industry leaders such as Boris Fritz," he adds.

The Low-Volume Manufacturers Association is a volunteer organization dedicated to showcasing the benefits of rapid-prototyping, rapid-manufacturing and other emerging additive fabrication technologies. Membership in the group is free and open to all bona fide additive fabrication companies.

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