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Disney receives patent for replicating reflective properties on 3D printed surfaces – 3ders.org (blog)

by • March 6, 2016 • No Comments

Mar 7, 2016 | By Alec

For a sense of technological progress, only take a appear at the staggering number of patents which are being approved every week by the US patent office. For the last week alone, they reveryed 6,746 issued patents with every adding a thing new to our collective knowledge. And you’d be surprised how frequently Disney gets their hands on a new patent revolving around 3D imaging and making. Just last week, they got a patent for a new technique for 3D scanning with the purpose of creating high high end 3D prints, and now a new 3D printing patent has may already been approved. This time, a patent was issued for a new technique to replicate reflective properties on 3D printed surfaces.
It can sound trivial at initially, but when you ponder of it this is in fact a thing 3D printing devices cannot do. Realizing highly rigorous geometric shapes with high level of details are not a problem anyadditional with existing 3D printing devices, but a few properties cannot yet be copied. “With present 3D printing techniques, the reflection properties of the printed object or version are defined by or due to the chosen printing material,” they write in the patent. “Unfortunately, on the market printing materials contribute a pretty restrictive set of reflectance properties.”

That’s unlucky, as a wide variety of finishes – such as a glossy shine –can be clear as day on a 3D version, but 3D printing devices just aren’t capable of recreating which. In a nutshell, which is what this latest Disney patent – entitled 3D printing with custom surface reflectance (application number US 14/030,176) is of. Filed way back in September 2013, it showcases a technique conceived by Jan Kautz, Olivier Roullier and Bernd Bickel for Disney Enterprises.
Their solution? In a nutshell, to 3D print an extra
micro-surface on 3D prints which acts as a reflective skin and showcases several reflectance properties you can find on existing objects. That’s right, not one, but several reflective properties, as it can be useful to make objects with two or three various properties. Being transparent in a few parts, high reflective elsewhere and an overall glossy finish may really add a whole new dimension to for-market 3D printing. Other results, such as a matte finish or a few matte sections of a product are in addition possible.
As you can see in the patent, it’s really a rigorous 3D printing system involving a multi-material 3D printing device. The reflective skin 3D printed on top of a part comes with a diffuse color layer which provides areas with one or additional colors and layer of transparent plastic. “[This provides] the reflectance elements of the micro-surface to provide or set reflectance properties for every colored region of the ink layer,” they say. And with every colored region showcasing various properties, differing reflective results are accomplished.
But this may not be possible without a data-driven approach to surface geometry. Essentially, they take advantage of surface reflectance properties of special inks and spatially-varying, bi-directional reflectance distribution functions (svBRDFs) which determines where what has to go. “The 3D printing method optimizes micro-geometry to create a normal distribution function (NDF) which can be printed on surfaces with a 3D printing device. Particularly, the method involves optimizing the micro-geometry for a wide range of analytic NDFs and simulating the effective reflectance of the resulting surface,” they explain.
Through which optimization system, the appearance of an input svBRDF can be recreated. “To this end, the micro-geometry is optimized in a data-driven style and distributed on the surface of the printed object. The methods were demonstrated to allow 3D printing svBRDF on planar samples with current 3D printing innovation actually with a limited set of printing materials, and the defined methods have been shown to be naturally extendable to printing svBRDF on arbitrary shapes or 3D objects.” It is really a rigorous method, but may unquestionably alter the game for high resolution, for market 3D printing. Now let’s hope this won’t only sit on a Disney shelf collecting dust for years.

Posted in 3D Printing Technology

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Angry Bob wrote at 3/7/2016 8:20:28 PM:
I suppose it is apt which the patent came of a Mickey Mouse outfit.
IAM3D wrote at 3/7/2016 6:23:31 PM:
lol Angry Bob, I came to same conclusion preceding reading your comment. It is ridiculous which it got granted. Technically, a paint layer on top of another paint layer IS additive making (3D printing); according to ASME definition. I’d like to point out which a patent needs a proof of a working concept. You can no longer patent “ideas”, they have to work.
Angry Bob wrote at 3/7/2016 3:22:12 PM:
Oh you mean like fill, paint and lacquer the surface…. Sheesh, who grants these patents.

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