HIGH TIDE: The mysterious machine that makes solid things appear

Chick Huettel

There was once a movie called “The Fly” where matter was transformed from one thing to another. Unfortunately for the movie star he got the bad end of the deal. Then there was “Star Trek,” where matter was beamed and reassembled from one point to another. That was in the future.

Now you can go see that future at the WaterColor/Seagrove Beach UPS Store(850-231-3505) on Walton County Road 395. The designed object you want produced is gobbled up by a machine, magically absorbed and digested, sprinkled with wizard powder and electronically 3-D zapped like the old Frankenstein movies.

Lo and behold the object begins to form in a solid state before your eyes. That drawing of your child will become a solid statue,that house diagram will become a small exactly built copy of your home. The part broken off a mechanism, if drawn, can be refashioned. I sat, as well as others, in a state of absolute fascination. The glass case door reveals the operation inside  and you watch the actual space age transformation of a picture to a solid three dimensional object that can be held and taken home or back to your business for use.

Out of 4400 stores in the UPS mega world, our UPS store in Santa Rosa Beach was selected to receive one of the precious few machines distributed in the entire United States.

Using spools of plastic, the transformation cabinet is heated and a needle becomes the sculptor and not only solid  pieces are fashioned but also looped chains cane be constructed. It slowly builds the item from what I envisioned as a 3-D hologram.

It’s not fast. Let’s say you have lost a hand. Yes, a hand. Randy and his wife Lynn Pike, who are owners, handed me a news article as I watched the machine work building and sculpting a small elephant (yes, you heard me, an elephant), a Mayan miniature pyramid, a robot, and other impossible recreations.

In the news article Randy handed me was pictured a young girl named Anastasia who was tragically born with a partial hand. The cost of a prosthesis for her was impossible because she was in a constant growing stage. Now she is forever able to inexpensively get a new folding working hand even in various colors because girls like colors. Soon doctors will start reproducing your exact bones, veins, jawbones, in their clinic for your replacements with this “3-D printer” as it is now called.

Just as we and school kids have printers for our computers, soon these machines will be printing or constructing ideas that one draws-up in real hand held objects.

If you take a drive, I strongly suggest you go by the store which is next to Publix and watch this “Star Wars” re-creator work. Like me, you’ll stand there “goggle-eyed.” Heck, take an object or concept  and see about getting  it reproduced. Have a small part missing off your 1957 Chevy? Take it to the store and ask for Justin. He’s the expert wizard.

Fair winds to ye matey. 

Chick Huettel is a long-time Walton County resident, writer and artist. He is a member of a number of local organizations including the Emerald Coast Archeological Society.