3D printing

3D printing – the only way is up

It was back in the early 1990’s at an IMI Ink Jet Conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts that a couple of young students talked to me about work they were doing at MIT Labs. This involved jetting an adhesive in a pattern onto a powder bed. After each layer had been imaged a further layer of powder was spread across the bed and imaged, and so on. Eventually you could blow away the loose powder, revealing a 3D object.

Inkjet printing onto non-flat objects (or direct-to-shape inkjet printing)

Many of the objects in everyday life are not flat, but have a three-dimensional structure. Almost all products need to be decorated in some way to make them attractive to buyers, and if the object needs to be decorated with anything more than simple colours, then printing is required. Printing onto three-dimensional objects is a real challenge, no matter what printing technology is used.