3D Surface Printing

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When you think about research, fun and exciting aren’t words someone would typically use in describing their investigations. Every once in a while though, you stumble across something that’s so fascinating you have to share it. In my research of stereolithographic 3D printers, I came across a link that sent me to Computational Hydrograhic Printing, quite a mouthful of syllables! At this time, in post processing of stereolithographic produced models, the current method is to paint your figures by hand or to electropaint. Here is a presentation of CHP as introduced in a paper, and demonstration, by university students of Zhejiang University in China and in collaboration with Columbia University last year. The team uses a Microsoft Kinect that maps the location of the object before immersion; the object orientation and dipping location are then both positioned by a 3D scanning system.

CHP could take a 2D picture of someone, scan a single color 3D model of the same subject, combine the plot points of the two with the algorithm, develop the film print and align it for application to the model. As yet, no information is available on any commercial system that uses this method of printing on 3D surfaces. Someone will develop one in the very near future and I can see that it would be indispensable for the 3D printing community. Hydrograhic printing, or water transfer printing, is a common method of printing and has been in use since 1982. Patterns in use today are conventional pre-printed sheets, for example camouflage or woodgrain that are common to specific industries like outdoor sports equipment or automobile manufacturing.

Here is a demonstration of the current method of home application using a pre-printed pattern sheet. It seems quite easy to develop and apply, using available and simple conventional materials.

Hydrographic design for 3D printing from le FabShop on Vimeo

Maybe if I’m lucky, a CHP app system will be on the market by the time I open my doors for business.

Quote of the week:

“Practice safe design: Use a concept”. — Petrula Vrontikis

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