3D Paper Printing 101


3D paper printing – also known as selective deposition lamination (SDL) – makes this technology accessible and affordable. Instead of nylon, Kevlar®, or even human tissue, MCOR 3D printers use paper to produce functional and beautiful creations. Fintan and Conor MacCormack, the “fathers” of 3D paper printing, perfected this technique because paper is a renewable, recyclable, ubiquitous, and inexpensive. The Holy Grail when making 3D printing relevant to the average consumer. 


Unlike laminated object manufacturing (LOM), which uses a laser to melt paper and glue into solid blocks before being pared into objects, selective deposition lamination uses compression and strategic adhesive application to turn paper into lightweight objects with the durability of most woods. 
To bring an object to life with a 3D paper printer, you simply need a computer generated engineering file that translates an object into raw data. MCOR 3D paper printers read all the major computer aided drafting (CAD) output, including STL and OBJ files. Just like a traditional 3D printer, MCOR’s interface then slices the data into layers. In this case, each layer is the thickness of a piece of paper. 

Unlike most 3D printers however, MCOR’s 3D paper printers have the capability to print full color objects. That means no complicated dipping or dying once an object is printed, adding another unique benefit to this process. The MCOR full color IRIS 3D printer uses propriety software called ColourIT to add pixel perfect color in over a million hues to each layer. The collective results are stunning, photo-realistic objects in every color imaginable. 

As each layer of paper and adhesive is compressed and colored, a fine razor slices around the outline of your object so you simply need to peel away the excess paper to reveal your object once printing has finished. This process is called “weeding,” and is quick and easy and all waste is clean and recyclable. Once printed, 3D paper parts do not need cured or processed with any additional chemicals or sealant. For added durability or aesthetics, creations can be waterproofed or glazed, but this step is entirely optional. 

And that’s it. 3D paper printing is a straightforward, cost-effective way to revolutionize a variety of industries. Consumers may enjoy novelty creations or jewelry, while architects and engineers will benefit from exact models of development sites. Doctors can practice on 3D paper printed medical models and teachers can print replicas of cultural artifacts to explain historic topics. The possibilities are endless as 3D paper printing makes creation as accessible as your own imagination.

Not sure MCOR paper printing is right for you?  Check out our blog on MarkForged Mark One 3D Printer.   

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  • Dustin Heigl
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