Post by Joy Smith
It’s that time of year again. The leaves are changing and the sound of school bells ring in the air. Which means that the Felt Lab is reopen and once again holding our popular Lunch and Learns!
This past Friday was our first lunch and learn of the new school year, and we were happy to welcome Robert Weeks, CEO of FiNUVO. Robert joined us to talk about hydrographic printing and how his recent invention, the FiNUVO Aqua, will be the world’s first desktop hydrographic printer.
For those like myself who are new to hydrographic printing, it is another term for water transfer printing, and is a technique for applying complex designs to 3D objects. If you want to see how it works, watch this video to see the whole process.
You begin by printing patterns to a sheet of thin transparent film. This film is then slowly laid across the surface of a tub of water and chemicals are added to soften the film and make it bondable. The object you are printing onto is then slowly dipped into the water at which point the film wraps around the object and bonds to it, allowing for intricate patterns to be permanently applied to objects within seconds.
Hobbyist and professional printers will know that a desktop hydrographic printer is kind of a big deal. Professional hydrographic printers have been around for decades, but physically the printers are extremely large, extremely expensive (costing anywhere from $50,000 – $150,000), and requires the use of toxic chemicals that need a fumigation system in order to be used safely.
Robert was aware of these issues and has created a product that will be fully automatic, have an integrated fume extraction system, a smart cartridge based film system, and a much smaller form factor. Not only was his aim to make this process more compact, but to also make it less wasteful in both the use of water and film.
You don’t have to be a hobbyist or a professional printer to get excited either. This is also a huge deal for the rest of us because even though the average consumer doesn’t yet own a 3D desktop printer, there are dozens currently in development and some people project that 3D printers will become common in people’s homes in roughly 5 years.
That means that in the next decade the average consumer will be printing their own home decor, utensils, toys, tools, and everything else you can imagine, and they will want more customization than having objects in the base colour of the material they are printing with.
Are you as excited as we are? Well, it gets even better: FiNUVO plans on launching a Kickstarter in the next few months, so keep following us on social media and we’ll let you know as soon as it launches!
What do you think? What would you decorate if you had your own hydrographic printer? Share in the comments below!