Casio's Mofrel 2.5D printer can print realistic textures like leather & fabric onto paper

Oct 16, 2017 | By Tess

Last year, we wrote about how Japanese electronics company Casio was developing a 2.5D printing technology which would allow users to easily print embossed, textured surfaces on paper. Now, Casio has finally unveiled its 2.5D printer, a machine called Mofrel, and recently demonstrated the novel technology at the CEATEC event in Japan.

While it is hard to define what 2.5D printing is—where exactly is the line between 2D and 3D printing?—Casio has taken up the name to describe its new Mofrel printer, which uses a multi-step printing process and special paper to create full-color, textured images.

The company says its 2.5D printing system will have applications in a number of industries, such as the automotive sector, where the printing can be used to create car interior prototypes, as well as the textile industry, as the printer is well suited for recreating patterns and textures of various materials, such as leather and fabrics.

How exactly does Casio’s Mofrel printer work? Firstly, the technology relies on a special type of paper which is made up of several layers, including a base paper layer, a foam layer, and a top inkjet layer. The foam layer is key to the process, as it contains thermally expandable plastic microcapsules which expand when exposed to heat.

In simple terms, once a user has a desired pattern and texture they want printed, they feed the paper into the Mofrel machine which prints said pattern onto the back of the page using an infrared and heat-absorbing black ink. Next, the paper can be reinserted into the printer (with the opposite side facing up) and the full-color print will be made.

The final stage is to apply heating to the back of the page, a step Casio calls “forming,” which causes the middle foam layer to expand according to the heat-absorbing grayscale pattern on the paper’s back.

Casio also points out that it is possible to vary the amount the foam expands simply by varying the degree of ink used in the grayscale print, though users shouldn’t have to worry too much about this step as Casio has developed a program which generates the grayscale data automatically based off the 3D design.

While the Mofrel 2.5D printing system may fall closer to the 2D side of printing technology, Casio’s technology still seems like a handy way to create texturally and visually realistic surfaces for prototyping purposes. We could even see the printer being used to create surfaces to be stuck on 3D printed prototypes to give clients an accurate picture of what a final product will look and feel like.

Posted in 3D Printer

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The Growing Trend of 3D Printed Toys & What it Means for Manufacturers

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A recent study points out that, 3D printers have enabled parents to save anywhere from 40 to 90% on children’s toys. The study also highlights how this trend is cutting down on manufacturer’s profits.

Additionally, desktop 3D printers have given prosumers the ability to create a manufacturing hub. As a result, home entrepreneurs are taking a slice of the toy industry, poised to grow to $135 billion by 2020. As of now, there are no certain figures on just how much domestic production can off-set this titanic industry, but cost efficiency is on their side. 3D printed toys can reduce costs by about 90%.

Another advantage is the ability to create unique toys that aren’t available on the market. Or perhaps even substitutes for massive branded toys. Perhaps LEGOs are a bit expensive as famous, branded goods tend to be. Parents could instead make their own LEGO knock-off blocks at home, after all, they aren’t remotely complex in shape or size.

However, one has to wonder where that leaves manufacturers. A lot of toy makers are already grappling with this issue. Many see it as a threat, whereas some see opportunities within. This also has wider implications for those who want to produce toys at home.

Opportunities for Manufacturers

Manufacturers don’t need to despise a world full of 3D printers. If (or maybe when) it does take shape, they will have to readjust. There are potential waves they can ride within this new environment. One way is to join them if you can’t necessary beat them. Mattel announced its plans to sell desktop 3D printers of its own. They saw this as an opportunity to get ahead of the curve and produce 3D printers they had designed specifically for toys.

Manufacturers can also see this as an opportunity to add longevity to their toy lines. They could release a basic toy with add-ons that you can print at home to improve it. It would be a move similar to how the games industry uses DLC (though hopefully not as divisive among consumers). It would add value to their products and maybe even allow users to customise their toys.

While we’re at it, why not give the consumer the ability to produce the whole toy at home? Companies (and even domestic producers) could potentially release designs that user could pay for and print at home. This could cut down on production, manufacturing and storage. Sites like My Mini Factory are already doing this and are making hefty sums of money with it.


Manufacturing at home opens up a can of worms for federal regulations commissioners. Should someone be allowed to sell toys out of their garage or should it go through quality controls? Regulators will have to check for material toxicity and assign appropriate labels for choking hazards. They would also have to request safety tests before they could hand it over to children.

Then there’s the issue of what workplace regulations will apply. Essentially, a lot of people will be working from their garage. Rules, when it comes to 3D printers, have been quite relaxed but this could present a need for establishing new guidelines.

Similarly, rights issues can be tricky. Copyrighting toys and digital models and ensuring that no one is stealing anyone else’s designs can be tricky. It’s already tough enough restricting music and movies online, now actual physical data and computer models. I imagine, some form of registration will be necessary to ensure legal processes are being followed.

GearBest Deals: Redmi Note 4X, Tronxy X1 3D Printer & More

GearBest just started a new wave of sales earlier today, with the online retailer discounting a broad range of consumer electronics in the last few hours. Regardless of whether you’re on the lookout for a new smartphone, laptop, or a robot vacuum cleaner, below you’ll find a hand-picked list of the best time-limited deals that are currently available on the website.

CHUWI LapBook 12.3

The CHUWI LapBook 12.3 is now available for $319.99, 23 percent down from its original price. Like its name suggests, the device boasts a 12.3-inch screen with a resolution of 2736 by 1824 pixels, in addition to being powered by the quad-core Intel Celeron N3450 CPU clocked at up to 2.2GHz and 6GB of RAM. It also comes with 64GB of eMMC storage, the 64-bit version of Windows 10 Home, and Bluetooth 4.0 capabilities, so if you’re on the lookout for a new laptop for casual use, this is a great opportunity to get one. This particular sale lasts until the end of the month.

Buy The CHUQI LapBook 12.3


Xiaomi’s intuitive wearable is currently available for purchase at a 22 percent discount and will set you back $38.99 until next Monday, but you can further reduce that price and save $4.50 by using the promo code below. If you’ve been thinking about getting a fitness tracker for a while but don’t want to commit significant money to it, this deal is a great opportunity to do so.

Buy The Xiaomi AMAZFIT


Tronxy Desktop X1 3D Printer

The Tronxy X1 Desktop 3D Printer is available on a flash sale until next Monday, being priced at $132.99, which is a 26 percent discount on its regular $178.36 price tag. The US variant is only slightly more expensive but is still significantly discounted, being purchasable for $139.99 until next week, July 24. Overall, this deal is a good opportunity to get into 3D printing without breaking the bank.

Buy The Tronxy X1 With EU Plug Buy The Tronxy X1 With US Plug

APPotronics A1 Laser Projector 600

Both variants of the APPotronics A1 Laser Projector 600 are currently discounted by ten percent, but their $649.99 price tags can be lowered even further to $599.99 by using the promo code below. If you happen to be on the lookout for a new projector and aren’t interested in devices that make compromises, this is a great opportunity to purchase one with 4K capabilities at a below-average price.

Buy The A1 Laser Projector 600 With US Plug Buy The A1 Laser Projector 600 With EU Plug


Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X

Currently the best deal on GearBest for people on the lookout for a new smartphone is that for the Redmi Note 4X; the smartphone is presently available for purchase at a 23 percent discount, i.e. $153.99, which is a great price for this 5.5-inch mid-ranger powered by the Snapdragon 625 and 3GB of RAM. If you need a new, reliable daily driver at an affordable price, look no further than this model that’s on sale until the end of the month or while supplies last.

Buy The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X

3D Printing | What is SLA & When Should You Use It?

Imagine a vat of liquid goo. Lasers beams shoot across the pool in seemingly random fashion. Eventually a form – a figurine, part, whatever – rises out of the liquid. You just watched Stereolithography Apparatus (SLA) in action.

SLA is a type of additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing. It’s called additive because material is added rather than subtracted to make the part or piece. A couple weeks ago we shared a post about Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM). You’ll recall, FDM uses extruded to build layers of material in the shape of your part. If you think FDM videos are cool, wait ‘til you see SLA.

Here’s a great (short) video, courtesy of 3D Systems, that not only breaks down the SLA process, but has great visuals of SLA parts being produced:

The material used in the SLA “printer” is liquid plastic (photopolymer) which hardens quickly. The support structure that forms during the process is easily removed once it comes out of the tank. The part is then cured by UV-light. The end result? SLA creates extremely smooth surfaces, especially when compared to FDM. Most people use SLA for prototyping or making small production runs when they want a near-finished look to the part.

There are pluses and minuses to SLA, of course.


  • Aesthetically superior to FDM. Objects have a smooth, trade show finish
  • Objects can be finished with paint or even plated (i.e., nickel, chrome)
  • Objects can be quite complex.
  • Speed


  • Objects are affected by heat and light. They can warp or discolor
  • Can be messy
  • Limited materials available

That last ‘con’ — limited materials — could change if researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology’s Institute of Microstructure Technology (IMT) in Karlsruhe, Germany, have anything to say about it. Dr. Bastian Rapp and his team of researchers are working to create SLA objects made of glass, a notoriously difficult material with which to print. 


Photo courtesy of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

According to a recent story in the New York Times, Dr. Rapp’s team:

“…Loaded a high concentration of glass nanoparticles into what’s called a photocurable liquid, which hardens under UV light. The mixture sits in a container and is exposed, slice by slice, to UV light that has been programmed to create different shapes at each layer. The regions that are exposed become solid. Heating the structure in a high-temperature furnace, like a ceramics kiln, burns away the leftover liquid and fuses the glass nanoparticles together.

Creating unique or intricate glass shapes this way has the potential to be much easier, and orders of magnitude cheaper, than the methods commonly used today, Dr. Rapp said. Currently, shaping large glass structures involves exhaustive melting and casting processes, and etching fine features involves hazardous chemicals. With this method, you upload your 3-D design, and “the software does all the rest,” he said.”

Applications for Dr. Rapp’s research are exciting — everything from large architectural pieces to tiny devices for chemistry research, perhaps even high grade optical lenses.

As one of the earliest forms of additive manufacturing, SLA remains highly popular. But as Dr. Rapp’s, and other’s, research demonstrates, no one is satisfied with the status quo. 

Read more about 3D printing and prototyping:

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Patty is the Content Creator on the East West marketing team. She writes blog posts and enjoys sharing the East West message across social media (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram).

BMW combines 3D printing & virtual reality to streamline vehicle design

Mar 29, 2017 | By Tess

German auto manufacturer BMW, no stranger to 3D printing technologies, has announced its intention to combine additive manufacturing and virtual reality to help streamline and reduce the costs of its design processes.

3D printing and virtual reality have been developing side by side for several years, with both technologies becoming more and more advanced and increasingly accessible. It is hardly a surprise then that their trajectories have become intertwined in numerous ways. Earlier today we wrote about one instance of this intersection, as tech company HTC released its new MakeVR tool, which allows HTC Vive users to craft and 3D model in a virtual environment.

Now, it seems BMW is seeking to explore the benefits of combining both technologies for its own design-related purposes. In designing and developing a new vehicle, BMW would traditionally have to manufacture one or several prototypes for each part—a time-consuming and costly process. With the advancement of 3D printing, however, this task was made significantly easier, as the company was able to additively manufacture one-off prototypes in a more time and cost efficient manner.

By adding virtual reality into the mix, the car manufacturer is hoping to streamline its design and prototyping process even more. That is, in combining VR tech with 3D printing, BMW is confident that it can simplify and speed up its auto design stage by cutting back on the number of parts that even need to be additively manufactured.

How is this going to work? Well, BMW is reportedly working on a VR program (in collaboration with Unreal Engine) that is capable of recreating a variety of different surface finishes and features that are integrated into BMW’s vehicles. Using the VR technology, the company plans to project the virtual images onto 3D printed parts to see how they will look when they are finished and built into the car. This will allow BMW’s designers to see any early flaws with a particular design, and allow them to create and adapt a new virtual design.

Additionally, BMW also intends to use virtual reality and 3D printing in tandem in order to increase the efficiency of inter-departmental communications. By using the two technologies together, BMW says it will be easier to convey design ideas and directions to different teams, and will provide a more user-friendly experience for its employees.

For over 25 years, BMW has been a strong proponent of additive manufacturing technologies, not only using it for its own manufacturing needs, but also investing in up-and-coming 3D printing companies, and collaborating with various organizations, including Team USA. As always, we are eager to see its continued use and advancement of the technology.

Posted in 3D Printing Application

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CES 2017: Day Two in 3D Printing & 3D Scanning Shows More Hardware, More Focus

On Friday, CES 2017 was again in full swing following a very busy day one — many exhibitors braced themselves for what they had heard would be the busiest day of this massive consumer electronics trade show, and the crowds certainly seemed to give proof to that thought. Once everyone had steeled themselves (and filled up on coffee), it was back into the madness as the second full day took off.

Global Medical 3D Printing Materials Market 2016 Trends, Research, Analysis & Review Forecast …


This report studies Medical 3D Printing Materials in Global market, especially in North America, Europe, China, Japan, Southeast Asia and India, focuses on top manufacturers in global market, with capacity, production, price, revenue and market share for each manufacturer, covering 

ACS material 
Regenovo Biotechnology (Shining 3D Tech) 

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Market Segment by Regions, this report splits Global into several key Regions, with production, consumption, revenue, market share and growth rate of Medical 3D Printing Materials in these regions, from 2011 to 2021 (forecast), like 
North America 
Southeast Asia 

Split by product type, with production, revenue, price, market share and growth rate of each type, can be divided into 

Split by application, this report focuses on consumption, market share and growth rate of Medical 3D Printing Materials in each application, can be divided into 
Hearing Aid 
Medical Devices

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Table of Contents

Global Medical 3D Printing Materials Market Research Report 2016 
1 Medical 3D Printing Materials Market Overview 

1.1 Product Overview and Scope of Medical 3D Printing Materials 
1.2 Medical 3D Printing Materials Segment by Type 
1.2.1 Global Production Market Share of Medical 3D Printing Materials by Type in 2015 
1.2.2 Polymer 
1.2.3 Ceramics 
1.2.4 Metal 
1.2.5 Plastic 
1.2.6 Other 
1.3 Medical 3D Printing Materials Segment by Application 
1.3.1 Medical 3D Printing Materials Consumption Market Share by Application in 2015 
1.3.2 Detal 
1.3.3 Orthodontic 
1.3.4 Hearing Aid 
1.3.5 Biofabrication 
1.3.6 Medical Devices 
1.4 Medical 3D Printing Materials Market by Region 
1.4.1 North America Status and Prospect (2011-2021) 
1.4.2 Europe Status and Prospect (2011-2021) 
1.4.3 China Status and Prospect (2011-2021) 
1.4.4 Japan Status and Prospect (2011-2021) 
1.4.5 Southeast Asia Status and Prospect (2011-2021) 
1.4.6 India Status and Prospect (2011-2021) 
1.5 Global Market Size (Value) of Medical 3D Printing Materials (2011-2021)

2 Global Medical 3D Printing Materials Market Competition by Manufacturers 
2.1 Global Medical 3D Printing Materials Capacity, Production and Share by Manufacturers (2015 and 2016) 
2.2 Global Medical 3D Printing Materials Revenue and Share by Manufacturers (2015 and 2016) 
2.3 Global Medical 3D Printing Materials Average Price by Manufacturers (2015 and 2016) 
2.4 Manufacturers Medical 3D Printing Materials Manufacturing Base Distribution, Sales Area and Product Type 
2.5 Medical 3D Printing Materials Market Competitive Situation and Trends 
2.5.1 Medical 3D Printing Materials Market Concentration Rate 
2.5.2 Medical 3D Printing Materials Market Share of Top 3 and Top 5 Manufacturers 
2.5.3 Mergers & Acquisitions, Expansion

7 Global Medical 3D Printing Materials Manufacturers Profiles/Analysis 
7.1 Stratasys 
7.1.1 Company Basic Information, Manufacturing Base and Its Competitors 
7.1.2 Medical 3D Printing Materials Product Type, Application and Specification Type I Type II 
7.1.3 Stratasys Medical 3D Printing Materials Capacity, Production, Revenue, Price and Gross Margin (2015 and 2016) 
7.1.4 Main Business/Business Overview 
7.2 Formlab 
7.2.1 Company Basic Information, Manufacturing Base and Its Competitors 
7.2.2 Medical 3D Printing Materials Product Type, Application and Specification Type I Type II 
7.2.3 Formlab Medical 3D Printing Materials Capacity, Production, Revenue, Price and Gross Margin (2015 and 2016) 
7.2.4 Main Business/Business Overview 
7.3 ACS material 
7.3.1 Company Basic Information, Manufacturing Base and Its Competitors 
7.3.2 Medical 3D Printing Materials Product Type, Application and Specification Type I Type II 
7.3.3 ACS material Medical 3D Printing Materials Capacity, Production, Revenue, Price and Gross Margin (2015 and 2016) 
7.3.4 Main Business/Business Overview 
7.4 EnvisionTEC 
7.4.1 Company Basic Information, Manufacturing Base and Its Competitors 
7.4.2 Medical 3D Printing Materials Product Type, Application and Specification Type I Type II 
7.4.3 EnvisionTEC Medical 3D Printing Materials Capacity, Production, Revenue, Price and Gross Margin (2015 and 2016) 
7.4.4 Main Business/Business Overview 
7.5 EOS 
7.5.1 Company Basic Information, Manufacturing Base and Its Competitors 
7.5.2 Medical 3D Printing Materials Product Type, Application and Specification Type I Type II 
7.5.3 EOS Medical 3D Printing Materials Capacity, Production, Revenue, Price and Gross Margin (2015 and 2016) 
7.5.4 Main Business/Business Overview 
7.6 Organovo 
7.6.1 Company Basic Information, Manufacturing Base and Its Competitors 
7.6.2 Medical 3D Printing Materials Product Type, Application and Specification Type I Type II 
7.6.3 Organovo Medical 3D Printing Materials Capacity, Production, Revenue, Price and Gross Margin (2015 and 2016) 
7.6.4 Main Business/Business Overview 
7.7 Regenovo Biotechnology (Shining 3D Tech) 
7.7.1 Company Basic Information, Manufacturing Base and Its Competitors 
7.7.2 Medical 3D Printing Materials Product Type, Application and Specification Type I Type II 
7.7.3 Regenovo Biotechnology (Shining 3D Tech) Medical 3D Printing Materials Capacity, Production, Revenue, Price and Gross Margin (2015 and 2016) 
7.7.4 Main Business/Business Overview 

8 Medical 3D Printing Materials Manufacturing Cost Analysis 
8.1 Medical 3D Printing Materials Key Raw Materials Analysis 
8.1.1 Key Raw Materials 
8.1.2 Price Trend of Key Raw Materials 
8.1.3 Key Suppliers of Raw Materials 
8.1.4 Market Concentration Rate of Raw Materials 
8.2 Proportion of Manufacturing Cost Structure 
8.2.1 Raw Materials 
8.2.2 Labor Cost 
8.2.3 Manufacturing Expenses 
8.3 Manufacturing Process Analysis of Medical 3D Printing Materials


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