The company developed a special layered paper, sandwiching a layer containing thermally-expandable plastic microcapsules between two layers of printable paper. As reported by Nikkei Technology Online, the back side is first printed with IR sensitive black-and-white texture patterns, then the front side of the paper is colour printed, and finally, infrared light is applied to the back print to heat it up (to 90ºC).
The darker the texture patterns, the more they heat up and the more bloated is the sandwiched layer (as the microcapsules expand into foam). This makes for colour prints with textures raised up to 2mm above the regular paper surface. The prototype supports A4- and A3-size papers and takes a few minutes to print 2.5D patterns.
Cited applications include teaching materials for visually-impaired people or designing fancy product packaging.
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