Multi-Color. Multi-Material. Multi-Disciplinary.

Multi-Color. Multi-Material.
E X P L O R I N G D I V E R S E A P P L I C AT I O N S F O R F U L L - C O L O R ,
M U LT I - M AT E R I A L 3 D P R I N T I N G I N E D U C AT I O N
By Denis Cormier, Earl W. Brinkman Professor, AMPrint Center Director,
Rochester Institute of Technology
Multi-Color. Multi-Material.
E X P L O R I N G D I V E R S E A P P L I C AT I O N S F O R F U L L - C O L O R ,
M U LT I - M AT E R I A L 3 D P R I N T I N G I N E D U C AT I O N
properties. However, there are new options of
Over the past decade, 3D printing technology
digital materials and full-color 3D printing, in which
has emerged as a valuable resource for colleges,
the color and/or physical properties (e.g., stiffness,
high schools, maker spaces and even community
hardness) can be specified at a point-by-point
libraries. The integration of 3D printing into
basis. 3D printers that support digital materials are
mainstream society has given people of all
not inexpensive, though. However, broad adoption
ages and walks of life unprecedented access to
of the technology across a campus can justify
technologies needed to turn innovative ideas into
academic units collaborating to share the costs
reality. All one has to do to gauge the impact of
and benefits.
3D printing is look at the explosion of successful
crowdfunding efforts that would never have been
Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) recently
feasible prior to the advent of 3D printing.
established the New York State-funded Additive
Manufacturing and Multifunctional Printing
Nowhere is 3D printing’s influence on innovation
Center for Advanced Technology (AMPrint
more visible than on college campuses. One might
Center), equipped with a full spectrum of world-
think it is primarily the domain of engineering;
class additive manufacturing and 3D printing
however nothing could be further from the
technologies available to every discipline and
truth. 3D printing continually creates meaningful
department. Among the installed equipment
curricular connections outside of engineering —
base are a professional grade Stratasys J750™
faculty, students, researchers and innovators are
3D Printer and a Fortus 450mc™ 3D Printer,
drawing on the technology in natural and physical
the former of which can run the full spectrum of
sciences, mathematics, fine arts, filmography and
available materials. The cutting-edge, full-color 3D
even business school curricula. This widening
printing technology now available in the AMPrint
scope of 3D printing applications has also led
Center supports innovative applications in nearly
to unprecedented levels of multi-disciplinary
every college on campus, including fine arts,
collaboration between academic programs on
health care, natural and physical sciences, design
college campuses.
and engineering.
The majority of 3D printers in academia operate in
a single material with fixed color and mechanical
Multi-Color. Multi-Material.
E X P L O R I N G D I V E R S E A P P L I C AT I O N S F O R F U L L - C O L O R ,
M U LT I - M AT E R I A L 3 D P R I N T I N G I N E D U C AT I O N
to achieve strictly through the use of fabric. RIT
Industrial Design Professor Melissa Moukperian
and industrial design graduate student Brad Dunn
took advantage of the Stratasys J750’s digital
material capabilities to design and 3D print a
woven dress in a flexible selectively colored digital
material (Fig. 2).
Figure 1: RIT’s AMPrint Center
Full-color 3D printing could not be a better fit
for the fine arts, including painting, sculpture,
architecture, film and apparel. Each of these
disciplines emphasize aspects of creativity and
color that are perfectly suited for the Stratasys
J750 and its digital material platform.
Apparel and Fashion Design
3D printed apparel and fashion accessories have
received considerable attention in the popular
media. The overwhelming majority of items are
produced in either black or white rigid nylon via
selective laser sintering. But the Stratasys J750
3D printer lets designers incorporate both color
and variable material properties (i.e., hard/soft,
rigid/flexible) into their designs. Industrial design
Figure 2: 3D printed dress
3D Printed Artwork
Traditional oil paintings consist of layers of paint
with very noticeable surface texture. The same
digital scanning techniques used for reverse
engineering and body scanning have been used to
scan both the color and 3D surface texture
of paintings.
departments can use color and 3D texturing
to produce 3D printed apparel with aesthetics
and design elements that would be impossible
Multi-Color. Multi-Material.
E X P L O R I N G D I V E R S E A P P L I C AT I O N S F O R F U L L - C O L O R ,
M U LT I - M AT E R I A L 3 D P R I N T I N G I N E D U C AT I O N
RIT Imaging Science Professor Jim Ferwerda and
Medical Models
his team of Ph.D. students developed software
Universities with medical, dental or veterinary
that allows laptop or tablet devices to view
schools can use the Stratasys J750 to print
3D scanned artwork with a very high degree
medical models from CT or MRI scan data. Scan
of realism. The software uses the computing
data is typically provided in the DICOM file format
device’s tilt sensors and camera to track the user’s
which captures the density of tissue at each
orientation with respect to the displayed image.
point in a stack of scan images. Medical imaging
The software dynamically updates the displayed
software, such as Materialise Mimics or InVesalius,
image in real time so the user sees similar color,
groups regions of scan images with similar density
lighting and texture one would see when looking at
together in order to identify and separate different
the real painting .
tissue types (e.g., bone, skin, muscle, blood
vessels). After image segmentation, each type of
The next step in this concept is to use color 3D
tissue can be saved as a separate geometric file
printing to produce authorized reproductions with
whose color can be uniquely specified within the
the same color layering and 3D surface texture
Stratasys J750’s GrabCAD Print™ software.
as the original work of art. Lithographic
reproductions are commonplace; however,
3D printed color models are used for presurgical
3D printed reproductions can more faithfully
planning where surgeons devise the best
represent the original work of art.
approaches for difficult procedures. They can also
be used to produce much more realistic medical
training models produced through injection
molding. Figure 3 shows a color-coded model of
3D printing has been used extensively to improve
a dog’s brain in which each distinct region of the
the delivery of health care. Medical models and
brain is assigned its own color. The digital model
assistive devices are two common areas that
of this brain was created at NC State University’s
benefit greatly from the use of full-color
CAMAL Center and was 3D printed at RIT’s
3D printing.
AMPrint Center.
Multi-Color. Multi-Material.
E X P L O R I N G D I V E R S E A P P L I C AT I O N S F O R F U L L - C O L O R ,
M U LT I - M AT E R I A L 3 D P R I N T I N G I N E D U C AT I O N
education teacher named Joe Kabes. Kabes was
troubled by the fact that the school’s disabled
student population had few options to participate
in physical education (PE) classes. He came
up with the Overcomer3 — a system of devices
that connect to wheelchairs and walkers and let
disabled students participate in PE class activities
like bowling, soccer and floor hockey (Fig. 4).
Figure 3: 3D printed color-coded medical training model of a dog’s brain
Kabes, who is also a personal trainer, approached
RIT to collaborate with a senior design team of
Assistive Devices
students to help refine and prototype his designs.
The eNABLE2 open source prosthetic hand
The team, made up of undergraduate design
movement was co-founded by RIT professor Jon
students from a mix of different engineering
Schull in 2014. The foundation is supported by a
disciplines, are currently finalizing the designs
group of worldwide volunteers who design and
which will be 3D printed in a variety of colors on
3D print prosthetic hands and arms. Prosthetics
the AMPrint Center’s Stratasys J750 3D Printer.
for children are a challenge given the extremely
high cost given the fact that the child continues
to grow and therefore requires constant
refitting. Additionally, some children requiring
prosthetic hands do not wish to draw attention to
themselves, while others want bright and colorful
prosthetics. The Stratasys J750 3D Printer is
particularly well suited for this type of application,
allowing for 3D printed prosthetics that match
Figure 4: Joe Kabes’ Overcomer Project helps children with physical
disabilities participate in activities during PE class.
the skin tone, or done in vivid colors chosen
specifically by the child.
Another inspirational example of assistive devices
was created by an elementary school physical
Multi-Color. Multi-Material.
E X P L O R I N G D I V E R S E A P P L I C AT I O N S F O R F U L L - C O L O R ,
M U LT I - M AT E R I A L 3 D P R I N T I N G I N E D U C AT I O N
Entomology or Botany
from non-perishable 3D printed color models of
Museums often have historical or archeological
plants, flowers, insects and more for use in the
artifacts that were recovered with damaged or
classroom. A color 3D model can be enlarged
missing pieces. Scanning technology coupled with
to multiple times the real size to allow for more
CAD tools can be used to produce digital models
effective demonstration and learning without
of replacement and replica components complete
the need for microscopes. True 3D coloring lets
with color information. Color 3D printing is a
students see actual depth of features that are
perfect fit for this type of application.
not apparent with surface coloring of molded
Faculty in some of the life sciences benefit greatly
plastic parts.
In some cases, an artifact may be considered
sacred and thus not allowable for public display. In
one such case, RIT was contacted by a museum
that had several comb artifacts believed to have
been used in 18th century Seneca Indian burial
ceremonies (Fig. 5). Cultural sensitivities for
these sacred objects prohibit their public display.
In order to share these important artifacts with
the public now, RIT scanned the combs with a
NextEngine 3D scanner, and 3D printed color
replicas for display in the museum.
Figure 6: 3D printed flower in full color
Marketing Studies
Color is also extremely important in consumer
acceptance of products. A color 3D printer allows
an entire array of product color choices to be
quickly and easily produced. Marketing students
Figure 5: Moose antler comb
Multi-Color. Multi-Material.
E X P L O R I N G D I V E R S E A P P L I C AT I O N S F O R F U L L - C O L O R ,
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using the Stratasys J750 can produce prototypes
RIT-themed tiger dice. Figure 6 shows the dice
of new products in a range of different color
designed in SolidWorks to have the appearance
schemes. The models can be used in customer
of tiger stripes in RIT’s exact RGB colors for
focus group studies to evaluate consumer
the orange, brown and white surfaces. Several
preferences. Researching and exploring the
hundred of these dice can be printed in a single
potential for multi-color plastic housings with non-
build on the Stratasys J750.
moldable appearance texturing is invaluable to
marketing students.
Personalized 3D Printing
Scanning and CAD modeling tools can be used
Manufacturing engineering students can learn
to produce products that need to be customized
complex mold design principles from 3D printed
for an individual, like swimming goggles whose
tooling splits that are produced in a fraction of
contour is customized to fit the face of the wearer.
the time it would take to machine them. Likewise,
Selective coloring allows one to have fun with
investment casting patterns that would be
the aesthetics of the personalized products as
impossible to produce via conventional wax
well. For example, RIT’s mascot is the tiger. The
molding processes can be 3D printed quickly.
AMPrint Center hosts hundreds of visitors and
Time-saving assembly jigs and fixtures can be
tours every year, and the staff wanted to design
produced with molded text, color and/or icons
a high-impact giveaway item that was small
intended to error-proof assembly operations.
and relatively inexpensive. The solution was
Figure 7 illustrates an example of 3D printed
tooling created by the AMPrint Center in
partnership with a local company. After designing
a new product requiring a small plastic housing
to hold electronics, the company needed several
hundred housings produced for testing and
customer demonstrations. But they didn’t have
experience with injection molding or material
selection, nor did they have money to produce
Figure 6: 3D printed RIT Tiger dice
Multi-Color. Multi-Material.
E X P L O R I N G D I V E R S E A P P L I C AT I O N S F O R F U L L - C O L O R ,
M U LT I - M AT E R I A L 3 D P R I N T I N G I N E D U C AT I O N
Figure 7: 3D printed injection molding inserts created by the AMPrint
Center staff in partnership with a local company.
a production injection mold without knowing if the
demand for the product was there. The AMPrint
Center staff and students were able to assist and
designed the injection molding insert tooling to
mold both halves of the housing. The inserts were
then 3D printed on the Stratasys J750 using Digital
ABS material.
Finite Element Studies
Figure 8: Color 3D printed FEA model of an SAE Formula racecar upright.
Model by David Browne via GrabCAD.
Many engineering programs participate in SAE
Formula or Baja vehicle competitions. These
competitions often include a segment in which
students must explain to judges why and how they
arrived at a specific design for critical components.
then 3D printed in full color on the Stratasys J750.
Colorful, 3D models such as these are invaluable
communication tools in competitions where team
members must explain their design process.
This inevitably includes the use of finite element
studies to assess how a particular design geometry
will perform under the expected loading conditions.
Figure 8 shows an instance where a finite element
study was conducted on a vehicle upright in
SolidWorks. The color-coded FEA model was saved
in the VRML 97 file format within SolidWorks and
Author Bio
As this white paper has shown, full-color 3D
Professor Denis Cormier is the Earl W. Brinkman
printing is a great resource and provides much
Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering
benefit across nearly every discipline on a
and the director of the AMPrint Center at
college campus.
the Rochester Institute of Technology. His
teaching and research is centered on additive
The ability to give form and substance to ideas
manufacturing, 3D printing and printed electronics
with realistic colors and materials is instrumental
for the synthesis of novel materials and geometric
in opening up opportunities and fostering
structures. Professor Cormier has a B.S. in
curricular connections across departments. From
Systems Engineering from the University of
design to fine art, life sciences to health care
Pennsylvania, M.S. in Industrial Engineering from
and engineering, full-color 3D printing pushes
the State University of New York at Buffalo and
the boundaries of what students and faculty can
Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from North Carolina
do on their own, and together. The versatility
State University. He is the Associate Editor for the
of materials, application and interdisciplinary
International Journal of Rapid Manufacturing, and
use builds bridges, inspires collaboration and
serves on the Editorial Advisory Board for Additive
ingenuity, while building a broader list of alums
Manufacturing journal and the Rapid Prototyping
and strong support from donors, researchers and
Journal. He is a founding member of ASTM’s
peers. The cutting-edge technology challenges
F-42 additive manufacturing standards group and
students and faculty to drive academic programs
serves on the Society of Manufacturing Engineer’s
forward by combining imaging, ingenuity and
Additive Manufacturing advisory committee. He
research to innovate, discover, create and design
received SME’s Outstanding Young Manufacturing
without limits.
Engineering award in 2003.
1.Darling, Benjamin A., and James A. Ferwerda. “The tangiBook: A tangible
display system for direct interaction with virtual surfaces.” In Color and Imaging
Conference, vol. 2009, no. 1, pp. 260-266. Society for Imaging Science and
Technology, 2009.
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