3D printing is in a real boom at the moment as innovators bring to market more interesting machines all the time. The Mcor Iris uses sheets of A4 paper glued and cut to build up the 3D models and with the 2D printer the prints are wonderfully colourful as well. Built Environment here at UNSW purchased the printer late in 2013 and after early January training we have done 3 full prints now. The video and photos below show the second serious test print featuring an array of sample models in one build. You will see the orange at several sizes, a coloured conrod showing stress levels and a small landscape. The last pic in the sequence is actually print3 which was a matrix of paper rings.

The sequence of images below show the models emerging from the solid chunk of paper that is a completed build. Like an archaeologist we need to pick away the unwanted paper exposing the juicy artifacts within. The more complex the model the longer this takes and care is needed with good tweezers to get right to the correct paper layers.

I did have difficulty with the 2D printing which is a whole step before the 3D machine kicks in. I think the humidity in our room (windows to the outside world) isnt helping. A few little issues with the second phase but I am getting the hang of things much more now. That said I did take a week to get this print done from start to finish. I think it would be cool to have the 2D printer integrated with the 3D machine – make it one process rather than two (maybe a future model will work that way). There is still a fair bit of handholding in terms of blades, glue, paper, etc etc – so it may not be suitable for students (at least not in larger numbers). Well before we can even entertain larger numbers of anything, the speed boost upgrade (coming soon) will help. The big print you see here took 48 hours to run after the 2D printing was complete…

The final products are superbly tactile and look lovely. Picking the parts out of the paper block is actually lots of fun so I am keen to try out some more types of prints soon – so we can get to the researchers and designers here and start using the machine with more purpose!

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