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.

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3D Printing Brings Movie Characters to Life Like Never Before

Anime fans everywhere are going crazy for the new fantasy, cyberpunk movie, Ghost in the Shell. What makes this production so intriguing is the way it draws in the philosophical questioning of what makes us human and displaying the struggles we endure daily through the bodies of characters. It features a futuristic world that is halfway to post-human status with the majority of citizens having some form of cyber enhancement to their bodies.

Bringing to life these characters to star in a blockbuster movie was no easy feat. But, with the help of Peter Jackson’s Weta Workshop for backup, everything worked out quite well indeed. Weta Workshop is New Zealand’s top prop, and special effects company and their involvement stretched far beyond the realms of simple hair and makeup; extensive prosthetics were needed too. Jane O’Kane, the movie’s hair, and makeup designer said, “We wanted everything to feel real. We tried to stay on point and honor the aesthetic of the original.”

More than 20 specialized looks were designed by O’Kane and her prosthetics supervisor, Sarah Rubano while trying to achieve real looking, yet still holding on to that visually compelling character design. To make all of this possible the team carried out extensive research on cutting edge prosthetics currently being developed, future design websites, and the body-modding community. Once the design was in place, a complicated build process was to follow. “The design was done early on, but then once we had cast our actors, which was often significantly later, the design was altered to suit the cast visually, aesthetically and also practically to see what they were able to endure prosthetic-wise,” said Rubano.

Throughout the whole 3D printing process, Rubano and O’Kane worked very closely with Richard Taylor, Weta’s creative director. Taylor explained that to sculpt and build is a slow process and to try and overcome that he and his team worked as quickly as possible to “get to a point where we could sculpt onto the actor’s face/body castings and test completed prosthetics on stand-ins at the Workshop.” During the process, adjustments are made for practical reasons as well as aesthetics and what may have looked good in theory, just didn’t work in reality. ‘Kane commented, “That was probably one of our biggest challenges, actually making sure that the result used to work for the actual person it was going on.” Unfortunately, what this meant was that for any actor who had to fight in their prosthetic augmentation they would spend many hours going through the refitting phase.

There’s no special way to prepare a prosthetic for this sort of work, you just need to make sure everything you create is versatile enough for the actor to cope with,” said O’Kane. The reality with prosthetics is that it’s an additive process: You can build up easily, but you can’t take away. That means that if a design calls for the removal or diminishment of a part of the actor’s body, CG becomes critical,” confirmed Taylor.

One of the best examples of this kind of work and the combination of techniques used can be seen in the character Kuze (Michael Carmen Pitt). A great deal of our concept design for Kuze was based on the Japanese practice of Kintsugi – the repair of old, broken pottery. As a philosophy, Kintsugi treats breakage and repair as an intrinsic part of the object; rather than something to disguise, it’s something that adds clarity and character,” said Taylor. But Kuze is simply one very small aspect of the movie that demonstrates how these special effects allow characters to come to life. To really appreciate it in its full glory, why not check it out now and see what you think.

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One Of The World's Strongest Materials Looks Like A Chunk Of Coral

Hydraulic presses aren’t just for smashing Legos and Barbies and making fake teeth explode. They’re also for real science—although, exploding objects are still part of that, too.

Engineers at MIT designed a geometrical configuration that can withstand high pressure at five percent the density of steel, with 10 times the strength. They created this confection-like neon pink stuff by compressing small flakes of graphene and 3D printing it into a shape resembling coral, with high surface area and low density.

Two dimensional materials, at only an atom’s thickness—and graphene, in particular—are typically very strong and conductive. But their experiments found that it didn’t matter what the material itself was made from, more that it was formed into this coral-esque shape. Adjusting the thickness of the material gave interesting results: thicker walls burst suddenly under pressure, but thinner walls allowed the pores to crumple gradually, maintaining its shape longer.

They imagine this material building lightweight bridges, insulation and infrastructure, but its applications aren’t confined to Earth. One of the researchers, Zhao Qin, told Fast Company that he foresees its use in space engineering. Its extremely lightweight strength could make it valuable in colonies on other planets.

Until it starts showing up on the walls of your Martian home, enjoy watching it explode in the press.

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However, unlike the three-dimensional printer, a three-dimensional pen does not require special conditions such as heavy and expensive software and of course we must not forget the printer itself, which today (2016) the most affordable printer will cost a total amount 1,200$

The structure and shape of the pen, look similar to a normal pen.

At the top are two openings: one for power input via AC adapter standard.

The second is used to input ink made of special plastic. This ink called “ABS” which three-dimensional printers use it. There is

Further, it is composed of a body and buttons that control the speed of removing ink and the ink removal direction, intends to remove the ink from the head or from the ink inlet.

Of course, the pen has also a control panel that controls all the activities, but there is also a thin plastic tube, whose mission is to transfer the ink cartridge. In addition, there is a cartridge, designed to heat the ink that comes to it from the tube, and remove it. The average temperature of the molten ABS which is 235°C.

There is also a fan designed to cool the components keeping warm. So as not to burn should take a break every 15 to give the fan and the top of the ink to “rest” from their jobs.

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Ban Ki-moon: 'digital technologies like 3D printing have the potential for massive destruction'

Aug 25, 2016 | By Alec

UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Of all the initiatives and developments in the 3D printing world, none have caused as much headaches as 3D printed guns. And regardless of where you stand on the issue of gun rights in America, it’s no secret that completely untraceable plastic guns are bringing security issues to the table. Especially law makers in the US have been scratching their heads about what to do with them. Among others, the US State Department has been trying to limit the spread of 3D printable gun designs, while a new law passed in California last month requires 3D printed guns to be registered.

But the issue of 3D printed guns transcends second amendment debates, according to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. During a speech on the global proliferation of weapons, he listed 3D printing alongside a number of technologies that can be used by terrorists and that facilitate the production of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and other biological and technological threats.

Mr. Ban was speaking during a UN Security Council debate on ‘The non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction’, and reminded those present that eliminating weapons of mass destruction was one of the founding principles of the United Nations. “I call on all States to focus on one overriding truth: the only sure way to prevent the human, environmental and existential destruction these weapons can cause, is by eradicating [these weapons] once and for all,” Mr. Ban said. “We – the international community – must ensure the disarmament and non-proliferation framework is universally and completely implemented, and is resilient and versatile enough to grapple with the changing environment.”

UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

During the speech, he also called for more multilateral treaties that, like the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, are “robust and tested.” Nonetheless, the challenges to non-proliferation and disarmament architecture are growing, the Secretary-General pointed out. “Vicious non-State actors that target civilians for carnage are actively seeking chemical, biological and nuclear weapons,” he argued. In particular, the recent outbreaks of Ebola, MERS and Yellow Fever revealed that the world is not adequately prepared to prevent or respond to biological attacks.

However, the Secretary-General also discussed the global threats that emerge from the misuse of science and technology. The digital world, he argued, is unavoidably accompanied by new challenges to human safety, and the international community must respond to them. “Information and communication technologies, artificial intelligence, 3D printing and synthetic biology have the potential for massive destruction,” he said. “The nexus between these emerging technologies and WMDs needs close examination and action.”

What’s more, Mr. Ban is not alone in seeing digital innovations such as 3D printing as potential terrorist threats. Gregory Koblentz, the director of the Biodefence Graduate Program at the George Mason University in Virginia, also warned for the dangers of cyber terrorism. “We should not be just one click of the mouse away from a cyber Chernobyl,” he said, adding that computer viruses can easily attack chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear facilities. In 2014, a seized ISIS laptop was found to contain a manual on biological weapon development, while the Nuclear Threat Initiative previously found that 20 nations with weapon-grade nuclear material or nuclear power plants did not meet basic cyber security requirements.

Gregory Koblentz, Associate Professor and Director of the Biodefense Graduate Program at George Mason University, addresses the Security Council open debate. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

3D printing can certainly also play a role in digital terrorism, Koblentz added. 3D printed drones offer low-cost opportunities to attack or explore nuclear facilities or chemical storage sites, and can theoretically also deliver WMDs to targets. It’s no secret that ISIS, Hamas and Hezbollah are already looking into drone technology. But 3D printed plastic guns, that can evade security scanners, can also be used for small-scale terrorist attacks. While such guns are known to be dangerous to the wielder as well, that is not a big concern in suicide attacks. But more generally, 3D printers can be used to manufacture items that are otherwise unobtainable for people on terrorist watch lists.

So what can be done to counter the threats posed by 3D printing? While neither Ban Ki-moon or Koblentz are calling for laws against 3D printed guns, it is imperative to properly prepare defense frameworks. “Disarmament and non-proliferation instruments are only as successful as Member States’ capacity to implement them,” the Secretary-General noted while encouraging council members to devise counter measures that support their disarmament and non-proliferation commitments.

Koblentz, meanwhile, argued that specialists need to extensively study possible threats posed by 3D printing and other digital technologies, and prepare against them. “It would be far preferable to predict how these emerging technologies could be misused and take steps to minimize that risk,” Koblentz said. The digital revolution clearly brings its own threats with it.

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