Highcon’s 3D-printed paper dresses highlight recently concluded drupa

Highcon's 3D printed paper dresses turned a lot of heads at drupa this year.
Highcon’s 3D printed paper dresses turned a lot of heads at drupa this year.

One of the most unique attractions at drupa 2016, which concluded June 10 and was reported here from the show floor by our Columnist Diana Varma, was the Highcon Shape 3D Printer that uses paper instead of plastic. The machine, scheduled for release in 2019, will use Rapid Layer Manufacturing Technology to create large-scale, 3D-printed paper objects. The print finishing leader’s new foray into the 3D realm allows users to create their own paper and cardboard furniture as well as other models. The printer combines the features of the OEM’s popular Highcon Beam and Highcon Euclid finishing machines. It also makes paper a viable construction tool for a variety of creations – including dresses, functional furniture and more.

Highcon's Booth at drupa this year featured the Highcon Shape 3D Printer.
Highcon’s Booth at drupa this year featured the Highcon Shape 3D Printer.

At drupa, the Israel-based company showcased a range of ornate dresses created from paper that highlight the printer’s many abilities. Experts are already predicting that it will have a huge impact, particularly in the printed packaging industry. The Highcon Shape can also create a number of different layers from a single piece of waste paper or card, thereby reducing paper waste dramatically.

The printer can even output a ‘concrete mold’ from thousands of sheets of waste paper that can accept any pourable resin or cold-setting solution. The technology also facilitates the use of paper for rapid prototyping on items that are too large for a standard 3D printer. Finally, the very idea of creating something new from waste paper is not only helpful to our environment, it’s creatively challenging and fulfilling at the same time.

Paper snowflakes printed on a Highcon Shape.
Paper snowflakes printed on a Highcon Shape.

While specific details of the machine will not be revealed until its release date approaches, a video of the Shape shows that a user simply loads the machine with stacks of paper, with each page sequentially laser-cut into a specific shape. Each sheet then forms a layer of the 3D printed object, just like a regular 3D printer. After the final sheet has been cut and attached, the final ‘3D printed’ object is removed from the printer.

Highcon also created a 1.4-metre-tall wine display made from 2,400 layers of paper that a software algorithm defined before actually cutting and arranging it. Again, the paper was loaded into the paper tray and the finished product “miraculously” emerged from the other side.

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Tony Curcio is the editor of Graphic Arts Magazine.