While 3D printing has indeed hit the mainstream, it’s safe to say there are still plenty of folks out there busy paying attention to other things who actually, believe it or not, have no earthly idea how one of these machines work—and sometimes it takes a little while to sink in. While getting a hair trim over the weekend, I was taking part in the usual perfunctory chitchat and explained that I write about 3D printing. Another employee sweeping nearby swooped in and asked me how the machines work, exactly. I started to explain and she said, “but paper comes out of it, right?” I explained how this is a different sort of printer, and the material, usually plastic, is applied layer by layer. Confusion ensued in trying to explain the whole 3D, not paper, process verbally, so she finally got out her iPad from under the counter and we watched a YouTube video outlining 3D printing and looking at some of the incredible objects that can be made, generally out of plastic. I giggled a little, explaining that it’s definitely not spitting out flat paper (and yes, of course I’m an avid follower of Mcor and their lineup of paper 3D printers, but we just weren’t ready to go there in the moment).
Now I really do have to eat my words. Because of course at the latest tradeshow, what’s the biggest, hottest thing? Paper. And Israeli company Highcon caused quite a sensation at drupa 2016, running from May 31-June 10 in Düsseldorf, showing off some mighty impressive paper innovations. While Mcor won’t have any competition this year or the next as the Highcon Shape 3D isn’t due for release until 2019, this is certainly a unique looking machine, elegant and futuristic—and definitely ‘spitting out’ paper—but in the form of some incredibly complex structures—from 3D printed paper clothing to paper chairs.
The Highcon Shape 3D harkens back to traditional technology as well, using not only additive manufacturing, but subtractive as well. As the user loads the printer with a traditional stack of paper, a laser plotter goes to work cutting out the specific form for the 3D model in mind. The results that can be achieved are no less than staggering, as they have an enormous paper chandelier, along with numerous other designs, all made with the Highcon Shape on hand at the show, made by design firm Wanda Barcelona. The studio, headquartered in Spain, was initially skeptical about the capabilities of the machine, and especially to produce something on the scale they were considering.
“When first approached by the Messe Dusseldorf to produce their eye-catching displays, planned to be the hallmark of drupa 2016, Wanda were hesitant – they saw no way they could produce the kind of scale required,” reports Highcon in their recent press release. “The collaboration with Highcon resulted in this truly memorable vision combining unique design elements that needed to be produced at an industrial pace.”
The company, based in Yavne, Israel and founded in 2009 by Aviv Ratzman and Michael Zimmer, has certainly come a long way from their flagship Highcon Beam, a digital cutting and creasing machine for mainstream production. Their progress was evident at drupa as their booth was lined with their hardware, including the Shape 3D prominently (although it will really not be formally shown off until the next show, according to Shelagh Hammer, Marketing Manager at Highcon), and many of the 3D printed paper innovations as well. Highcon’s CEO spoke on their presence at drupa:
“At drupa 2016 we are proving the strength of our vision of delivering digital technology that bridges the gap between design creativity and production capability,” says Aviv Ratzman, co-founder and CEO of Highcon. “The extensive range of different and exciting applications on our booth, from the paper fashion show, through to the general commercial and packaging products, and on to the 3D applications, were all produced on our digital cutting and creasing machines and we are proud to be introducing a whole new portfolio here at drupa.”
That the Shape was unveiled at drupa at all was a surprise to everyone, but it is certainly making an impact, with the aesthetics designed by Padwa Design, well-known for their industrial and automotive projects. According to Highcon, as they release this machine formally in 2019, the ultimate purpose is to ‘deliver real life, large scale products from a file to reality, within minutes, using any kind of paper.’
Other hardware on display at the Highcon booth included:
- The Highcon Beam – taking B1/42 in digital cutting and creasing into mainstream production with up to 5000 B1 sheets per hour
- The Highcon Pulse – B2/29 in digital cutting and creasing machine with a smaller footprint and smaller pricetag
- The Highcon Euclid III – third generation proven digital cutting and creasing machine with improved capabilities, quality and performance and brand new variable data cutting and 3D modeling
- Highcon Axis Web-to-Pack platform, a 2D to 3D solution that brings the benefits of a web-to-print system to all the players in the complex paper or cartonboard production supply chain
Discuss further in the Highcon Shape 3D Printer forum over at 3DPB.com.[Sources: 3DNative; Highcon]