Printing in 3D started with polymers, continued with liquid metals and organic matter, just to make a surprising turn to paper, a material that’s typically used in conventional printers.
Instead of using expensive materials in order to produce colored 3D objects, why not just use paper and colorize the uppermost layer? Irish company Mcor answers this question with its Isis 3D printer, a machine that replaces polymers and other such materials used in 3D printing with one of the most affordable things on the planet: paper.
Geoff Hancock, CEO of DGS 3D, the Australian supplier of Mcor machinery, explained that “We can take the topographical map of an area, and then overlay a satellite photo to produce a 3-D model. No other process can produce something that’s both topographically accurate and printed to such fine resolution. Councils are going mad for it, and there’s a guy in the US running around making full models of golf courses to put in the lobby. They look fantastic.”
3D printers are accurate in general, being able to protrude fine lines of plastic over one another, in order to make complex objects. Luckily, paper is thin enough to make the differences between the layer unnoticeable.
With the Mcor Isis paper 3D printer, it’s quite easy to create large objects. Basically, you need to create the smaller parts of the bigger thing and implement a locking system that keeps the pieces together.
There are people out there who are concerned about the amount of waste this paper 3D printer produces. They don’t seem to realize that the waste itself is also represented by paper, which can be recycled quite easily.
Not only maps can be created using this paradoxically simple method, but also 3D portraits or busts. Given the low-cost of paper, making a fist-sized 3D printed object using this technology costs between $10 and $12, which really isn’t much, compared to other methods. Considering how durable the objects printed with Mcor’s ISIS 3D printer really are, I don’t see why anyone would use other materials ever again. If it comes to potentially dangerous situations, both paper and polymers are extremely flammable, so they would disappear equally quickly. Other than that, the cost-effectiveness and the incredible colors obtained this way make the Isis printer an ideal option.
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