Mathematics with 3D Printing

•April 25, 2014 • 3 Comments

Back in September I participated in a local Pecha Kucha event on the topic of 3D printing.  Of course I talked about interactions of mathematics and 3D printing.   The video (well, slides+audio) is now online.


I’d brought along some of the models of mine and others that I’d printed.  As you may pick up from the audio, I was tossing them out into the audience.  It was all fun and games until someone lost an eye. (The one from that last post has pointy corners.)

My sincerest apologies if I either misrepresented, misattributed, or didn’t mention someone’s work.  I don’t have complete knowledge of this blooming field and surely got some things wrong and overlooked some other things.   So by all means, please contribute corrections, updates, or further information in the comments.

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Joining two segments

•December 20, 2013 • 8 Comments

My how time flies…

The join of two topological spaces A and B is basically the space of all line segments between every pair of points.  As a nice embedded, visceral example of this, a tetrahedron may be viewed as the join of two skew line segments.

Indeed this is the illustration on Wikipedia.

It also arises naturally when you think about grid diagrams of knots.  Remember this from way back?

Side Trefoil Tetra Torus

Thinking along those lines, you might consider discretizing it a bit…  Instead of taking the join of two entire segments, just take the join of n points along each segment.

Tetrahedron Join

Here I’ve used n=7.   And that gives us the complete bipartite graph K_{7,7} naturally embedded as a subset of the tetrahedron.  Moreover, any grid number 7 knot is a cycle in this particular embedding of the graph.

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A Generalized Banding

•April 26, 2013 • 2 Comments

The preprint Band Surgeries and Crossing Changes between Fibered Links by Buck-Ishihara-Rathbun-Shimokawa caught my eye this morning. They describe a describe a generalization of the plumbing of a Hopf band. Like Hopf plumbing, this operation preserves fiberedness. But unlike Hopf plumbing which occurs in a neighborhood of a disk, it is non-local occurring in a neighborhood of an annulus.

I thought I’d show the product disk associated to the band. This lets one verify the persistence of fiberedness and work out the resulting monodromy (which I haven’t done myself yet).


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Twisting with Surgery

•November 2, 2012 • 1 Comment


Here’s a sequence of images I drew for a talk I gave about a month ago. I reckon there isn’t much more to say that’s not in the images. Hit flickr for larger versions.

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It’s full of surfaces!

•August 24, 2012 • 3 Comments


That’s the exterior of the trefoil.   No, really.  I mean, well, it’s a torus embedded as the boundary of the exterior of a trefoil.

Okay, so it’s not how you’d probably choose to draw it.  It’s not how I’d first choose to draw it either.  Let’s see how I came to it.

Think about the space around the trefoil.  The thing’s hollow — it goes on (round and round) forever — and — oh my God


it’s full of surfaces!   (That was terrible. My sincere apologies to Clarke.)

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Chains and Tangles

•February 1, 2012 • 3 Comments

These two links have homeomorphic exteriors.

chaintangles001 chaintangles002

They’re both strongly invertible. Let’s quotient the first link by its strong inversion to get a tangle. Then we’ll isotop that tangle around and eventually take its double branched cover to get the second.





















Notice that this homeomorphism swaps the red and blue meridians and longitudes.

Hairy circle of spheres

•September 7, 2011 • 1 Comment

Well hairy isn’t too accurate unless there are hairs that are closed circles, but these are the concessions one makes for a dumb play on the Hairy Sphere Theorem. This post doesn’t really have much to do with that theorem.

What’s below are some pictures suggesting Seifert fibrations of S^1 x S^2, the circle of spheres. View this 3-manifold as an interval of concentric spheres where you have to imagine gluing the inner sphere to the outer sphere.


A Seifert fibration of a 3-manifold is a filling of the 3-manifold with circles so that around each point a teeny tiny enough chunk looks like it’s filled with parallel lines. Here these circles get chopped into intervals. The interval going through the north pole connects up to give one circle, and so does the interval through the south pole. We call these circles the singular fibers.

All the other intervals connect up with a fixed number of others to form circles. These are the regular fibers. Near each point on a singular fiber, a regular fiber passes by some fixed number of times, the order of the singular fiber. In the picture above this number is 5 for both singular fibers.

Here they have order 2.
2 with 5 copies origview

Here they have order 3.
3 with 4 copies origview

Here they have order 1 and so they aren’t that special. A homeomorphism would make all the fibers appear as radial arcs, the S^1‘s of the S^1 x S^2.
1 with 5 copies origview

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