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Thermo-Forming: Superior 3D Printing without 3D Printer

Swiss researchers have developed a new copying technology (Thermo-Forming) for three-dimensional color objects. Thus, they enter into competition with expensive 3D-Printer. With the procedure, prototypes and complete architectural designs can be inexpensive manufacture.

Complex three-dimensional objects, about a Chinese mask, can be copied with a color 3D printer. Such devices are expensive, less suitable for smaller companies or even education. Now, Swiss researchers have developed a technique that requires less sophisticated equipment. A simple 3-D printer, processed plastic and a Thermometer meet.

From distorted picture is exact copy in color 3D printing without a printer using Thermo-Forming

The secret lies in the software, developed by the PhD student Christian Schüller at the Interactive geometry Lab of Professor Olga Sorkine Hornung at the Technical University from Zurich. Scanner, which digitizes the object provides the base information. Safak program calculates the three-dimensional template in a two-dimensional image, appearing bizarrely distorted. It is transferred to the plastic film.

Thermo-Forming Software compensates

From the digital object, the 3D printer produces a negative form of the plastic polylactic acid (Poly lactic acid). It is filled with liquid plaster. After hardening, the biodegradable skin is peeled off, so that the white object is revealed. Last, the film is heated, so she deform. Vacuum sucks them finally abruptly on the plaster model.

While the image is equalized so that the object of the original is hard to distinguish. “The distortion of plastic the printed image will change. Our software calculates and compensates for this distortion but carefully”, Schüller says. This process is widely used in the industry is called thermo-forming. For example, yogurt containers and inserts for boxes of chocolates manufactured using this technique.

High-quality appearance without 3D Printer

The procedure ensures an exact match of original and copy. When the Chinese mask, for example, fine gold ornaments of teeth can be seen. “Colors and structures are almost identical to those of the original,” says Safar. He is sure that the industry will pick up the procedure to produce prototypes from a digital 3D model, before mass production begins.

Architects could use it to create models of houses. It is suitable also for modelers who want to purchase any expensive color 3D printer. “The appearance of the replicas is cheaper and faster than today’s highest 3d-printers and with quality, and for many applications”, touts Saeed for his procedure.