Thera-band Templates for Thermomolding

Introduction: Thera-band Templates for Thermomolding

This title uses and old 3-word spelling trick, so it can be remembered, but any other rubber band can be used. ;)

Having read this amazing article, Video – Zurich researchers develop alternative to 3D color printing, I learned that soon, you can print neat color 3D thermomolding objects!

Works from a 3D printed negative where you cast a positive Gypsum mold, so when you put the heated plastic membrane and use vacuum, it will replicate the Object.

By using an algorithm they developed, they can anticipate the deformation on the plastic, so you can adapt a color print into perfectly fitting the original object's details!

That's the good news.

The bad news... They will present the technique only in July, and when that will translate into a program you can use on your Computer, that's anyone's guess.

So, being as impatient as any Inventor is, I've concocted this rough and dirty technique for all other Geeks to have a go at Color Thermomolding, with the predictable approximative results.

Got a better way?

Cool, share it with us. I offer absolutely no guarantee of success, this is as experimental as it gets.


Step 1: Mold the Rubber First!

So imagine you have your Gypsum Guy Fawkes, ready for molding, instead of making the plastic molding, right away... You'll use a rubber membrane, first!

Step 2: Ruberized

With vacuum, and any luck,the Membrane will stick to the Gypsum, and the deformation will be there, so now...

Step 3: Outline the Thing

You get a Marker, with the vacuum on, and outline the contour of the object onto the membrane.

Step 4: 2D Program

Next thing you do, you find a 2D program, and fill the inner space of the contour with a frontal image of Guy... It will deform accordingly. I.E.bloat.

Step 5: Thermal Transfer

As seen on the Video, print onto a thermal transfer print, and of course, transfer it to the plastic sheet.

Step 6: 3Deee!

With any luck, it will stretch just fine, and get all the detail in place.

Adjustments, as to the right rubber film thickness and what not, are in order.

Good luck!

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    2 Discussions


    4 years ago

    The technology itself is fascinating, but your proposed method isn't going to work. I'm not trying to be harsh I just don't want someone to get heavily invested in the wrong ideas. At best you'd get the outline, and there's no garentee that the plastic will act the same way as the rubber. The biggest problem however is that you have no idea how the plastic INSIDE the outline will act. Its not just going to fall straight down be the end of it, especially on objects with unusual shapes, like that tree stump. A way you COULD approximate the distortion is by vaccumeing down the rubber like you suggest, then drawing a grid upon it. When you let the rubber return to flat, the grid will warp, showing the basic deformations you need to make to your image. However its not that simple, and the results will be loose at best. While possible it will be very difficult to achieve usable results, and that's likely with each and every item being done multiple times till its right.

    Its a lot like making textures for a model's UV map, without having the UV map to look at first. Trial and error will be nessisary, every single time.


    Reply 4 years ago

    Try with different rubber band thickness until you get the same deformation as in the plastic. In the end, you could just use liquid light: