New Technique for Coloring Complex 3D-Printed Objects

In industrial production, there are many ways for decorating 3D surfaces. These methods, including chemical- and electro-plating, decals, enamels, and manual painting, can be limited by complex surface geometries. Hydrographic printing is a well-known industry technique for transferring color inks on a thin film to the surface of a manufactured 3D object. It enables high-quality coloring of object surfaces and works with a wide range of materials, but does not have the ability to accurately register color texture to complex surface geometries. A team of researchers from China's Zhejiang University and Columbia University propose computational hydrographic printing, a computational augmentation of hydrographic printing methods for physically decorating 3D surfaces with user-customized color textures. The technique enables precise alignment of surface textures to possibly complex 3D surfaces and textures.