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Shape 3D – pipe dream or breakthrough in paper design?

Shape 3D is a 3D printer, which creates vases, quite big sculptures and functional furniture rapidly – and everything is made from paper! Its manufacturer – Israel-based company Highcon (known from producing of industrial machines for cutting and creasing), decided to debut in totally new industry. What’s interesting, its sneak preview took place at popular event  dedicated for printing and paper making industry – drupa 2016. How will it be received and why it was presented at trades connected with different devices?

It’s not the first cooperation, which hit on this idea. Several years ago Ireland-based Mcor Technologies designed 3D printers: IRIS and Matrix to form small paper 3D models. Their working area is a standard A4 paper. At the beginning of the year we were witnesses of premiere of ARKe, which differs from its predecessors. In contrast to them, it uses a paper from roll and welds layers of a tridimensional model.

Highcon was established in 2009 and it was the key player among concerns offering solutions connected with digital cutting and creasing. They let to create personalised cards, boxes or delightful pop-up books for children, which could have been made by an origami expert. It has turned out, that the engineers from Israel have appetite for more and want to try their luck with new technology.  Shape 3D is a machine, which enables to print practical, large-size objects like for example furniture. What can you expect from it?

drupa 2

Paper-made 3D printed chairs? How is it possible? The giant machine is slated to be fully functional by 2019. Until this time, the manufacture doesn’t want to reveal technical details, because the device requires plenty of tests and improvements. A video shows only a part of the whole process.  You start with loading up the machine with an ordered stack paper, each page of which is sequentially laser-cut into a specific shape (in case of MCor it was a knife) Each sheet then forms a layer of the 3D printed object, just like with a regular 3D printer. After the final sheet has been cut and attached, the 3D printed object can be removed from the machine, ready for admiration, or sitting on, or whatever purpose it has been assigned. Eye-catching is its (alleged) speed of printing. Unknown are still methods of: sticking, pressing, completing and technical specification of Shape 3D. Remember, that the video is just a visualisation, not a real record.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKyeSc4JSwk

A safety of cutting shapes with laser is still open to question. As an example I would like to introduce a solution worked out by Helisys, which similarly to MCor and Highcon used in its devices LOM (Laminated Object Manufacturing). A basis material was a foil. Sometimes it burned in the machine, what was a serious failure. Finally, the company was taken over by Cubic Technologies. That is why I am wondering how the material will be protected against eventual fire.

Besides the 3D printer, Highcon  showcased also a spectacular “3D printed” paper artwork by origami artist Wanda Barcelona, which hang from the ceilings of the Düsseldorf Fairgrounds.

drupa 3

Three years remained to the official premiere of the device, which will take place at drupa 2019 in Düsseldorf. The idea of Israelis shows, that companies bounded with printing and paper making, could start in new industries. 3D printed decorative items can find a lot of recipients, but I am sceptical against a paper-made furniture. Will its construction be stable? Is there a need for products of this kind? The safety of the whole process also arises doubts, as well as a marketing-model of the company.

Source: http://www.3ders.org/

Paulina Winczewska
German philologist and translator, fanatic of the strangest and the most difficult foreign languages and culinary experiments, who is not afraid of new technologies and gadgets. Enthusiast of swimming.

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