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Disney Research prints realistic textured 3D models using thermoforming

first_img3D printing is a tremendous technology that’s on the verge of changing the world, but one can’t argue that as it is now it is very, very slow. To make anything intricate can require hours upon hours of printing time. But what if you could create a plastic recreation of an object in seconds using the technology of thermoforming?Disney Research has proposed a new way to create intricate 3D models using this old method, updating the technology to create stunningly beautiful products. If you’re unaware of the term, thermoforming is the vacuum process utilized to quickly create plastic blister packaging for nearly every product you buy. Those models are obviously simple, squared-off shapes but Disney researchers have added computer imaging in order to create far more detailed plastic models. You can see this magic in action in the below video.Along with this Disney Research has released a nine-page report of their findings, which you can read here in PDF form. Warning- there is a lot of math to wrap your head around, although it’s fascinating stuff.The one issue they note is that their method currently only supports single-layered plastic sheets, which means that these objects are all open on the bottom. It also will be tricky to make geometrically complex objects, as the mold will be hard to remove. Still, Disney thinks that this can be a huge change for the fabrication community and think that a customized thermoforming machine could change things for the better in the future. Watching it in action, it’s hard to disagree.last_img