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3D Printing in Color: The Power of a Realistic Concept Model, Fast

- December 20, 2017
3d printing in color

3D Printing in Color: The Power of a Realistic Concept Model, Fast

The biggest challenges designers and engineers face when creating realistic concept models are usually compounded in the seemingly polar needs of an accurate, aesthetic model delivered quickly. Getting designs conceptualized and formed early in the production cycle can be critical to success, and precise prototypes delivered quickly are key to getting to market faster.

The pressure of delivering products to market fast has brought many companies to 3D printing, specifically PolyJet with its outstanding abilities to rapidly produce parts in precise detail. PolyJet continues to be the frontrunner of 3D printing technologies for quickly delivering accurate and highly cosmetic models. The incredibly fine resolution and multi-material capabilities of the technology has made it a leader in anatomical models, concept prototypes and master patterns.

Realistic Models and Prototypes

PolyJet Multi-Color is a unique technology feature that offers a full range of CMYKW color options for parts. Ideal for consumer prototypes and anatomical models, PolyJet Multi-Color brings projects to life. The parts can be printed in full color, with texture graphics and transparencies, in a matter of hours or days.

The models can be nearly indistinguishable from the end product, making it an ideal alternative to mimic the final production piece for concept reviews and promotional uses. Companies can reduce time to market by enabling graphic designers to integrate product images in marketing materials and ensure that packaging and displays work seamlessly with end products, well before it goes into actual production.

Textures can also be incorporated via graphic images that further the visual complexity that can be achieved, like wood or bricked surfaces ideal for architectural modeling. The result are parts built with the desired visual aesthetic quickly without the need for additional finishing.

Designing with Color

Color can be applied with two file formats, depending on the desired color and materials of the part. With STL files, color and transparency are determined by a color code be assigned to each unique shell within an assembly from the PolyJet Color Guide. In VRML format, color can be applied to each face or individual triangles of the geometry or with a texture (graphic) file.

Texture mapping, also known as UV mapping, is the process of adding an image or graphics to 3D geometry. Color information is stored in a 2D image file (.png, .jpg, .tiff), which is related to the coordinates of the mesh. This type of file can show the most detailed color information.

Designers can use specialized third-party software, to “unwrap” the 3D mesh into a 2D space. These programs allow designers to add color and detail from images that will later be wrapped back into the model. When applying a texture to a model with any software, a file with the texture is generated. The model geometry is “wrapped” with the texture in a process called UV mapping. For good printing resolution, the image file should be 600 DPI and the UV mapping size must match the model size.

With the high-resolution of PolyJet technology and new texture mapping that can apply realistic patterns like wood grain or photography, prototypes and concept models can impeccably represent their designs off the machine.

Truly realistic PolyJet models give you the freedom to design and produce models with exceptional accuracy. The range of color, texture graphics and fine details possible, your concept model can break the mold, without breaking the bank.