3D Printing Illusory Materials to Reimagine Product Design

Often associated with novelty toys, movie posters, and trading cards, 2D lenticular printing – which can create an illusory design effect when viewed from an angle – has been used by designers and artists for years.

But what if there was a way to innovate on top of that?

Enter industrial designer Jiani Zeng and computational designer Honghao Deng who created a project called Illusory Material. When working as researchers at MIT Media Lab, they saw the potential for game-changing design after the lab got a Stratasys PolyJet J8 Series 3D printer that could do multi-material, multi-color 3D printing.

While many designers largely rely on 3D printing for prototyping, few are currently exploring the wider design possibilities that the rapid development of multi-material 3D printing provides. Jiani Zeng

Consumers of today have become accustomed to responsive products, but this has largely been limited to the use of electronic components like touchscreens for interaction. Illusory Material changes the game totally by creating a dynamic experience, where the illusory design is purely physical and directly embedded into the model for interaction with users.

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Building on the concept of volumetric design together with GrabCAD Voxel Print software that is enabled on the J8 Series, the designers created 3D printed parts that incorporated a lenticular effect.

Structurally, the design is an integration of 2 basic parts: a top layer made from transparent VeroClear (lenticular lenses, eg. the ripple texture), and an underlying colorful base layer made from VeroVivid materials.

It’s sort of like embedding time sequences into the material – we had to dive into the voxel level to achieve those interactive results. This cannot be done with other methods.Honghao Deng

The innovative technique and design concept has gained recognition since being introduced and garnered two awards including “Best of the Best” at this year’s Reddot Design Awards.

Moving forward, the designers plans to refine the technique further and make it accessible for any designers to make full use of multi-material 3D printing. They see potential of it for use in applications like consumer products to fashion.

APPLICATIONS (photos: Jiani Zeng and Honghao Deng)

Loopop is a prototype for lollipop molds that adds a playful spin on traditional food design.

Imagine the textural experiences and colors that can only be created digitally, and the possibility to bring that experience into the physical world with surfaces that can shift freely.

Nseen is a minimalist perfume bottle that might seem to be entirely transparent, but essential information about the contents can be read when viewed from a angle. This enables an unobstructed view of the packaging but also allows information to be displayed at certain angles.

Unream is a daytime artifact that also doubles up as a night lamp which demonstrates the possibilities for furniture and interior designers. Using lenticular lenses, dynamic colors are shown when viewed from different angles.

Click to learn more about PolyJet 3D Printing technology and the J8 Series. Leave an inquiry via our contact form, email at info@creatz3d.com, or call +65 6631 8555 to get in touch with the team.

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