New 3D printing technique may be able to change the colour of objects every day

New 3D printing technique may be able to change the colour of objects every day
30 Jan, 2018

The scope of 3D printing is set to widen further with researchers developing a technique that could potentially change the colour of 3D-printed objects multiple times.

3D printing is a manufacturing process that builds layers to create a three-dimensional solid object from a digital model.

According to MIT News, researchers from the Massachussetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have released a new paper that mentions a technique called ColorFab.

The researchers claim to have developed an ink that changes colour when exposed to ultraviolet light for around 20 minutes. The ink, which can be used in 3D printing, comprises a base dye and other light-reacting dyes that helps change the colour in the base dye.

Currently, researchers are trying out the new ink on plastic and other commonly-used materials for 3D printing. They say the ink could soon be used on clothes and other items.

“Largely speaking, people are consuming a lot more now than 20 years ago and they’re creating a lot of waste,” Stefanie Mueller, the X-Consortium Career Development Assistant Professor in the departments of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Mechanical Engineering, was quoted as saying by MIT News.

“By changing an object’s colour, you don’t have to create a whole new object every time,” she added.

According to the paper – co-authored by Mueller, post-doctoral candidate Parinya Punpongsanon, undergraduate Xin Wen, and researcher David Kim – accessories such as bands for smart watches, necklaces, earrings and bracelets can be easily 3D-printed and their colours can be changed on a daily basis in sync with the person’s outfit.

The researchers also said that the new method can help store owners and retailers as they can custom-sell their offerings in real-time.

“I’m hopeful that in the future this sort of system could help encourage consumers to be more mindful about their purchases and maybe buy just one of something instead of buying it in every single colour,” Mueller was quoted as saying by CNN Money.

3D printers remain expensive but have gradually entered the mainstream in recent years and are being used to build prototypes for cars, jewellery and architecture, among other applications.

India, too, has seen a rise in acceptance of 3D printing technology. US-based tech major HP Inc recently brought its 3D printing technology solutions to India, almost a year after its global launch.