It can print realistic textures like leather and fabric onto paper, the novel technology was recently demonstrated at the CEATEC event in Japan
Casio has unveiled its 2.5D printer, a machine called Mofrel, and recently demonstrated the novel technology at the CEATEC event in Japan. It uses a multi-step printing process and special paper to create full-colour, textured images. The 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. Once a user has a desired pattern and texture they want printed, they feed the paper into the Mofrel machine, which prints the 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-colour 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.
It is possible to vary the amount the foam expands simply by varying the degree of ink used in the grayscale print.
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.