3d Printing Using Paper Makes Sense When You Think About It…
You know when you hear about a new innovation and you think, “what a great idea, that is so obvious, why didn’t I think of that?” No wise cracks ok!
Yes, 3d Printing in paper makes so much sense. There are so many benefits. The MCOR IRIS is certainly hitting a lot of hot points. Let’s look at the process and list some pros and cons below.
The process is very different to most other 3d Printing engines. It warrants a post mainly because it is using so many different methods to achieve its high quality result. The result is Full Colour 3d Printing output.
Here is my understanding of the process:
- Model is scanned or downloaded (STL file)
- Colourising may take place within the software
- The product is resized and sliced within the MCOR supplied software
- 3d base paper is printed on a colour printer on both sides using a modified 2D colour inkjet printer that sits in the IRIS stand. Mcor’s patented water-based ink permeates the paper, preventing any white edges on the part. A barcode is also printed on each page to ensure the pages are in the right sequence.
- Base paper is loaded to the MCOR IRIS for processing (gluing and cutting)
- Each page is fed and glued in two areas.
- the area to be the final model base
- the area to be removed, as waste for recycling
- Model outlines are cut by tungsten cutter after gluing. Areas are also cut by tungsten cutter for block removal once model is built
- Waste paper residue blocks are removed by hand
- Waste paper is able to be recycled
A ton of benefits are derived from the use of paper as the printing base. There is also a lot of well understood technology for printing on paper. The clever part is working out a 3d Printing engine that takes advantage of this. To me this is the key aspect of the innovation itself. Full Colour 3d Printing with paper makes a lot of sense
- Low cost of printing medium (Up to 1/10th of the cost of other colour 3d Printers)
- No proprietary concerns about the 3d print medium (Paper)
- Buy the printing medium (Paper) just about anywhere
- Recyclable waste and models
- Colour is high resolution*
- Model resolution is high quality*
- Strong, light and robust model is created
- Simple low toxic post finishing can easily add further qualities such as waterproofing or rubberising
- Suitable models are created for product mock ups, moulding blanks and personal products such as the figurine market
Naturally there are a few drawbacks “Full Colour 3d Printing” on the MCOR IRIS. Mechanical cutting of this amount of paper is no small feat. I did not see any specs on cutter life and how often the cutter would need to be replaced or reset. So my point below may be well off the mark. But if you are keen on a printer like the MCOR IRIS, I would be asking the question to find out more about these aspects of the printer.
- Does not easily allow for internal reliefs (Would not suit producing a completed model with internal structures where the residual paper could not be removed.)
- May require regular cutter / gluer maintenance to keep the resolution and quality levels
- Pre printing requires proprietary inks* that bleed through the paper
- Some model shapes may create a lot of residual waste (Although this is not a great cost)
- Total time to pre-print and process in the IRIS need to be factored
Let’s See Some Examples Of The IRIS Full Colour 3d Printing In Paper
Some of the specs of the MCOR IRIS Full Colour 3d Printing In Paper are impressive.
x, y & z axis: 5760 x 1440 x 508dpi
High resolution colour on all surfaces, including undercuts and on side wall features
Print over a million colours – more than any other 3D printer*
A4 Standard Office Paper 80gsm (160gsm ply colour only)
US Letter Standard Paper 20lb (43lb ply colour only)
A4 Paper: 256 x 169 x 150mm
Letter Paper: 9.39 x 6.89 x 5.9in
It seems that you can have a build depth of around 3 reams of paper. But please check with the manufacturer on this.
The MCOR IRIS is an impressive innovation being able to print ‘Full Colour 3d Printing‘ In Paper with all the flow on benefits of cost, colour range in the millions and of course recycling. Full colour 3d Printing has been quite limited to date and a new challenger in the mix is welcome.
There will no doubt be many new entrants producing Full Colour 3d Printing. Whether there will be more entrants that use paper will be interesting. But it does seem to give many advantages.
I had not even thought of producing a 3d Print in this way myself. This pre-print, laminate and cut method does seem to give a complete new twist on how other 3d Printers are attacking the problem of producing a 3d model efficiently. I can only imagine what the next generation of MCOR 3d Printers will be capable of.
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