Jul 3, 2015

Using hydrographics to color and texture 3d objects

Hydrographic printing could soon become mainstream way of coloring and texturing 3d printed objects. It could be as easy as printing a matrix on your standard inkjet printer and using it with water container and some additional chemicals. There are many DIY dip kits and hydrographics kits but non specially made for 3d printing. Software will have to be developed to connect various process parts.

Here are two projects and demonstrations in this area that look very mature and ready for implementation:

Texture Mapping Real-World Objects with Hydrographics by Interactive Geometry Lab

Project summary:
In the digital world, assigning arbitrary colors to an object is a simple operation thanks to texture mapping. However, in the real world, the same basic function of applying colors onto an object is far from trivial. One can specify colors during the fabrication process using a color 3D printer, but this does not apply to already existing objects. Paint and decals can be used during post-fabrication, but they are challenging to apply on complex shapes.
In this paper, we develop a method to enable texture mapping of physical objects, that is, we allow one to map an arbitrary color image onto a three-dimensional object. Our approach builds upon hydrographics, a technique to transfer pigments printed on a sheet of polymer onto curved surfaces.
We first describe a setup that makes the traditional water transfer printing process more accurate and consistent across prints. We then simulate the transfer process using a specialized parameterization to estimate the mapping between the planar color map and the object surface. We demonstrate that our approach enables the application of detailed color maps onto complex shapes such as 3D models of faces and anatomical casts.

Detailed article and extensive paper in PDF format:


3D cat model colored and textured with hydrographics

Computational Hydrographic Printing from SIGGRAPH 2015

Project summary:
Hydrographic printing is a well-known technique in industry 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 suffers from the inability to accurately register color texture to complex surface geometries. Thus, it is hardly usable by ordinary users with customized shapes and textures.
We present computational hydrographic printing, a new method that inherits the versatility of traditional hydrographic printing, while also enabling precise alignment of surface textures to possibly complex 3D surfaces. In particular, we propose the first computational model for simulating hydrographic printing pro- cess. This simulation enables us to compute a color image to feed into our hydrographic system for precise texture registration. We then build a physical hydrographic system upon off-the-shelf hardware, integrating virtual simulation, object calibration and controlled immersion. To overcome the difficulty of handling complex surfaces, we further extend our method to enable multiple immersions, each with a different object orientation, so the combined colors of individual immersions form a desired texture on the object surface. We validate the accuracy of our computational model through physical experiments, and demonstrate the efficacy and robustness of our system using a variety of objects with complex surface textures.

Project is developed by by Yizhong Zhang, Chunji Yin, Changxi Zheng and Kun ZhouTechnical