Japanese electronics maker Casio has developed a new 3D printer that is capable of replicating the texture of materials such as fabric and leather.
3D printers are known to create forms easily but not texture, with the uniform material limiting the usefulness for many companies, reports Nikkei Asian Review.
The material’s texture is created by electromagnetic waves that expand the surface of resin sheets. The roughness can be adjusted over seven levels, as well as the firmness.
Colors and detailed patterns like stitching can also be printed, explains Casio. An A4-sized resin sheet costs about $9 and printing can be completed in about five minutes. Casio developed the technology using its know-how in commercial printing, a field it exited previously.
The printer can create test products without using the same materials as the originals. The sheets’ elasticity also allows them to be fitted around objects.
The Casio printer will first be used to help a Japanese automaker produce a prototype interior for a car slated to go on sale in three years. The development time is expected to shrink from three to six months down to about three weeks, a time savings of roughly 70% to 90%.
Casio also hopes the printer can be applied to the fashion and construction industries to aid in the development of shoes, bags, wallets, wallpaper and more.
Going forward, the company plans to improve the durability of sheets, paving the way for the technology’s use in mass production of finished products.
Image credits and content: Nikkei Asian Review