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Modelling colour appearance for full colour 3D printers

Nickname: ColorMod3D

Fogra-Nr. 13.005
Project leader: Dr. A. Kraushaar (Fogra), Dr. P. Urban (IGD Darmstadt), Dr. Alwin Kienle (ILM)
Period: 1.10.2019 until 31.09.2021
Funding: Programme of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology for the support of "Industrielle Gemeinschaftsforschung [IGF]" via the German Federation of Industrial Research Associations [AiF]

Full-colour 3D printing is becoming increasingly popular and is now used in a wide range of indus-tries, from automotive to medical to dental prosthetics. Two 3D printing technologies are of particu-lar interest in this context, the polyjet technology because of its very high resolution and the possi-bility to print translucent objects, and the multi-jet fusion (MJF) technology, which makes it possi-ble to produce mechanically similarly strong parts as in injection molding or selective laser melting (SLM). Many applications place very high demands on colour accuracy, which requires colour cali-bration, characterisation and (ICC) profiling of the 3D printing conditions This requires an optical model that predicts the resulting colour, including translucency, for a print material mixture (usually a high-resolution 3D halftone). Even though empirical models have sufficient accuracy for many applications by printing many test colours and simple interpolation of corresponding measure-ments, the resources required are immense: thousands of colour patches, large due to the translu-cency of the materials, have to be printed, measured and evaluated. The costs for a colour charac-terization sums up to several thousand Euros, if material costs, machine running time, post-processing costs and personnel costs for the measurements are considered. Therefore, and due to the growing variety of 3D printers and new print materials that can be combined with each other, the use of empirical models quickly reaches economic limits.
The aim of the AIF-IGF project "ColorMod3D" is to develop an accurate optical model for predicting the colour appearance of polyjet and MJF prints, which requires minimal resources, i.e. very few prints and optical measurements, and still has a very high colour accuracy. For this purpose, the physical interactions of light with the printing materials and their arrangement will be investigated and both Monte Carlo methods and analytical optical models will be developed. Concrete goals are:
1. to create an ecosystem for the measurement of colour/gloss/translucency specifically for Polyjet- and MJF-3D printing, taking into account the needs of SMEs
2. investigation of the mechanical tone value increase (local expansion of drop points, hybrid mate-rials at interfaces)
3. development and validation of an optical printer model (Monte-Carlo, analytical by solving radi-ant transfer equations
4. provision of ICC-MAX printer profiles and further development of ISO standard