Casio tries to close the gap between 2D and 3D with a new prototype 2.5D printer. It’s able to add 3D textures to color prints.
Last month, the 27th Design Engineering & Manufacturing Solutions Expo (DMS) took place in Tokyo. Casio Computer Co Ltd was there to show off their new 2.5D printer prototype.
Although you be wondering what this technology can be used for, Casio claims that one use could be to help visually-impaired people with learning. Another less prestigious application could be to create gorgeous product packaging.
The company hasn’t decided whether to commercialize the 2.5D printer just yet, but there are plans to examine other applications for the design as well as to exhibit it at trade shows.
How Does the 2.5D Printer Work?
In order for the 2.5D printer to work, the company developed a special layered paper which has a layer containing thermally-expandable plastic microcapsules in between two layers of printable paper.
At first, the back of the page is printed with IR sensitive black and white texture patterns. Once this has finished, the front side of the paper is printed in color, and finally, an infrared light is applied to the back of the print. This heats up the paper to around 90ºC.
More infrared light is absorbed when the color of a pattern is dark which means that the temperature is higher. The benefit of a higher temperature is that a larger sandwiched layer is made thanks to microcapsules expanding. The microcapsules then harden due to the heat.
The amount of foam generated by microcapsules is in proportion to the temperature of the print, but amazingly, a height of up to 2mm can be gained.
Currently, the prototype 2.5D printer only supports A4 and A3 sized paper, but it only takes a few minutes to print 2.5D patterns.
The prototype is also capable of downloading samples to be printed from a cloud server, so perhaps there are exciting possibilities in the future. What do you think of this technology? Let us know in the comments.
(Source: Nikkei Technology Online)
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