By now “3D printing” is a globally acknowledged term, but wait “2.5D printing” for sure sounds strange to ears. Casio demonstrated this Mofrel printing technology at CEATEC. The technology introduced gives a wide range of textures to regular looking printing sheets, before finishing with the final touches of a sixteen million color inkjet.
The printed models were surprisingly good and considerable. Even the patterns had great details added to them. The delicate stitch bumps, the puffiness of leather, roughness of the uneven surfaces, even the unevenness of the sewed patterns could be felt and was visible in the printed samples.
Copying of hard materials like brick, stone, wood, and ceramic is also possible, however, some of them needed an extra coating for luster and solidity.
Casio’s “digital sheets” is the secret element of this printing. They seem to be thicker than the normal paper sheets. The “digital sheets” have micro powder layer inserted in between the paper or PET substrate and the inkjet layer. The powdered particles are coated with acrylonitrile (a thermoplastic resin) and contain a hydrocarbon. The acrylonitrile and hydrocarbon combo expands on exposure to heat when the heat is removed the structure returns to its original form, hence the copied pattern is made on the printing sheet.
For controlling the texture construction, the pattern is first printed on the sheet’s top microfilm using carbon, later these infrared absorbing carbons target the heat on the wanted parts of the micro powder layer. Hideaki Terada, Executive Officer- Casio Digital Art Division said that the micro powders can expand up to 1.7 mm thickness. At present, the thickness is kept at this level to maintain steadiness. Although with some difficulty the thickness of 2 mm to 2.5 mm is also technically attainable. Once the pattern is attained the microfilm is taken off to print colors on the inkjet layer that is the textured surface.
A total span of 3 to 5 minutes is consumed for printing a regular A4 “digital sheet”, single side. An amount of $10 is the worth of each printed sheet. In comparison to normal printing sheets, these sheets may appear abrupt, but the variety of patterns possible with this technology are numerous. This technology is way too cheap and fast keeping in mind the technological miracles it’s offering.
A3 sheets can also be used for the printer. Double-sided sheets for both A3 and A4 sizes are also available but the prices are not known.
The cost of the current version of Mofrel printer is about $44,400 and will be offered as a B2B solution next year. It’s been said that some top electronic firms and automaker industries have already received an access to Mofrel and are using it for their R&D. Currently the price is a lot for normal consumers like us, but Terada has hinted about launching a consumer version, still, that would take one to one and half years’ time.