One of the most exciting aspects of 3D printing in full color is the ability to take a 3D scan and a copy of the model in full color! Using the Artec Space Spider 3D scanner and the Stratasys J55 full color PolyJet 3D printer, this task can be accomplished easily in under a day. This efficiency empowers you and your team to make prototypes and replicas of just about anything quicker than ever before, and faster than many people realize. In this blog post, I will be summarizing the work we did to clone a regular household banana, from a 3D scan to a full color 3D print.
Creating the 3D Scan
The first step in this process is creating a 3D scan which we will use as our model. We chose a banana for this workflow because the matte texture and sporadic coloration gives us the perfect model for 3D scanning. The banana was scanned with the Artec Space Spider, a professional handheld 3D scanner that offers sub-millimeter accuracy as well as the ability to capture full color. This process is as simple as placing the banana on a turntable and rotating it while the Space Spider captures information with no color calibration or target stickers required. To fully scan the model, we scanned the top, flipped it over and scanned the bottom to fully capture the geometry of the banana. This resulted in a dense point cloud which we converted to a 3D model using Artec Studio.
Processing the Scan in Artec Studio
Once both halves of the scan have been completed, they can be processed in the Artec Studio app. This is a powerful software package that offers clean-up tools to help create a watertight textured mesh that can be exported for a variety of uses. For this project, the clean-up process was as simple as aligning the two halves of the scan, removing extraneous scan data and converting the point cloud to a mesh body. The mesh body is manifold (also know as watertight), which means it is a single solid body with no holes and can be easily processed by 3D printer slicing software. It also has an associated texture file which gives it a full-color appearance. Once completed, the model is exported as an .OBJ file with an associated .MTL (material library) and .JPG (full color texture).
Prepare the Model for 3D Printing
The full color textured 3D model can be opened directly in GrabCAD Print without any plugins, drivers or adjustments required. It also allows you to view print time estimates, material usage, and can automatically arrange the part to reduce the overall build time. In addition, you can select from various color profiles (absolute, relative, etc.) to get a 3D model that is an accurate representation of the original scan. After arranging the banana on the build platform, GrabCAD Print returned an estimate of three hours and one minute to print the model, with a total model material usage of 251 grams and support material usage of 103 grams.
Once prepared, the model is sent to the Stratasys J55 full color PolyJet 3D printer. The J55 uses a unique rotating build platform and a moving bar to quickly and efficiently create models using the PolyJet process. The J55 has the ability to load five separate model materials as well as support, allowing for full color mixing to create Pantone validated colors and vibrant details. For this print, we loaded VeroCyan-V, VeroMagenta-C, VeroYellow-V, VeroPureWhite, and VeroClear into the printer. This combination approximates the most commonly found color combination in print (CMYK) and also allows us to add clear to create a polishing layer if needed.
See the below final product mixed with a few real-life versions, can you spot the 3D printed one?This process is a perfect example of how 3D scanning and 3D printing can go hand-in-hand to create full color prototypes and replicas in a fraction of the time used by traditional methods. By creating a full-color 3D print the typical steps of priming, painting and clear-coating can be skipped. This saves you and your team valuable time and money.
Check out the video below with the full process demonstrating how an Artec 3D Scanner and a Stratasys 3D printer can bridge the gap between these two technologies for a scanned and printed object in less than a day!
If you’re interested in exploring how 3D scanning is being used in various industries, watch our on-demand webinar "The Advances of 3D Scanning in Industrial Applications."