Computational Hydrographic Printing


Recently Polymaker visited Zhejiang University where professor Kun Zhou and his team in the Computer Science Department have developed an interesting new method of precisely coating 3D objects. Their process uses hydro transfer as a method of delivering a 2D printed sheet onto a 3D object.  The magic behind the technology is the software developed by the team. The simulation software creates a 3D texture map between the colors on the film and the surface locations on the model. This 3D texture map is then transformed into a 2D image that you can print directly onto the PVA film. The software can predict exactly where the mask will hit the water and compensate the 2D image so that it stretches in the right places. The degree of accuracy that can be achieved with this method is astonishing. Since you need a 3D model of your object for the software to calculate the texture map, this technology seems perfectly matched to 3D printing.

Until now professor Kun Zhou has not been satisfied with the surface quality of FFF/FDM prints for his technology. The problem being the rough layered surface doesn’t take the film very well due to all the pits and falls in between layers. This forced him to shell out on an industrial SLA printer capable of matching the quality that his software can produce. However the nature of the technology is very low tech, all you need is a regular 2D inkjet printer, PVA film, a tub and a linear rail. So it seems like the extremely expensive industrial printer doesn’t match the relatively low tech nature of the coating process.

Polymaker introduced PolySmooth to professor Kun Zhou as a solution to this problem. By using PolySmooth models as a base you create a perfect clean surface for the PVA film to morph too. Professor Kun Zhou even noticed he gained more accuracy once he started using PolySmooth due to the layers being eliminated. As the software made its calculations based on parametric surfaces the extra surface area for the ups and downs of the layers was not accounted for previously. Now with PolySmooth the process can be even more refined allowing multiple immersions with incredible dimensional accuracy. Furthermore with the low cost of the Polysher & PolySmooth, this technology is available to a much wider audience, including home users and hobbyists. Allowing PolySmooth & the Polysher to take FDM/FFF printers into the league of industrial machines.

For more information on this process watch our video below

YouTube video

Hello Polymaker