2.5D printing

We’ve pretty much got used to 3D printing techniques, and 4D is just around the corner. Equally impressive, though often less obvious, is 2.5D printing.

This technique, in which a thin layer of solidified ink is printed, allows for some texture to be printed onto a flat substrate. We’re taking a look at some of the first examples of this technique in action here.

Basically, the 2.5D print technique consists of multiple layers of ink, up to 10mm thick, which are printed on various flat and rigid surfaces. A key difference with 3D printing is the use of an ultraviolet hardening ink. A UV lamp integrated in the print head dries the CMYK ink as it is printed.

This texture has a decorative effect, with the small, raised ink deposits forming full-colour patterns across the printed area. However, a drawback of the 2.5D technique is that vertical sides of the relief can only be printed in black. Sides up to 70° can be printed in colour. In addition, the relief can’t get wider as it rises.

Still, with their ‘Elevated Graphics’ collection, designers Jannie Schmitz and Daan de Haan have created a range of highly detailed relief in full colour. The limitations also make clear the difference between 2.5D and 3D printing. Advantages of 2.5D printing relative to 3D printing include the range of colours and very high-resolution print, of 600 dpi or higher.

This collection is produced with Océ High Resolution print technology. Other applications of the technique could include printing relief containing information for the poorly sighted. Replicas of works of art are also possible, which would, for instance, allow visitors to a museum to touch realistic copies of famous paintings.

The 2.5D panels were on show at Material Xperience 2014. Missed anything? Catch up with the pictures on our Facebook page, and see what went on at the Material Xperience site.