Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Now THAT is 3D printing!

I swore I'd never do a shameless commercial plug on this blog. Especially an unsolicited one. But this one has me truly excited, and I can't figure out why I had to find out from a mass emailed news release by the distributor. It should have been rumored in the blogs and forums long ago!

Ireland's Mcor Technologies have created the IRIS: a 3D printer that builds high-fidelity, photo-realistic physical 3D models in over one million colours from standard copy paper. And it does it at a mind-bogglingly reasonable cost.

I won't do the cheap thing of editing the press release into my blog. Suffice to say There is every reason to believe the claims of affordable, durable, tactile models, as eco-friendly as the constituent materials of white office paper and conventional colour inks.

The only sticking point I see is that the printer itself is big, and if I infer correctly from the discrepancy between the cost per model and the 'ongoing costs' implied by the news release, probably expensive.  This is the opposite of trends in the hobby CNC machines, and the DIY 3D printers.  Therefore, most of us will rely on bureaus as we do for large format colour printing, and we will be at the mercy of 'what the market will bear' mark-ups.  Even so, I am chuffed.

Imagine what you can do!!!! Soak it in water glass and it's full gloss model maker's heaven.

Download and read the white paper that explains how it works, here.
In Australia, contact the distributor DGS 3D at


Cyril said...

Unlike other posts, what comes up my mind initially is a TED talk, which is talking about complex organic forms inspired by the nature. (Link: layering thousand of papers cut by laser cutter, the model in result is excellent and aggressive. It shows that this skill could produce fabulous crazy irregular forms and it is important to state that the concept of the model making process is nearly the same as the typical 3D printing, as products are done by numbers of section which are printed on top of the previous.

Mcor's 3D printer seems to be the combination of both, just simply replace the xxxx with standard paper. Nonetheless it is no doubt that it breaks certain limitations of the typical 3D printing, and the cost of a quality model could be cheaper with this new printer in the future.

As the technology of the 3D printing is mature nowadays and start entering the domestic market, the cost of the machine itself is much more reasonable and could be affordable for family to own one.(Lots of DIY 3D printers are raised fund in Kickstarter these years, here is one of the example:; the printer is under $500) However, if you calculate the cost per model, which mentioned in your post as well, I think traditional 3D printing may even cost more. From same link, it shows that each 1kg material costs $25, which you can buy 5 packs of A4 paper. Every new product is expensive when it is firstly introduced to public, but we can see that printer has the potential to produce quality model with low cost as it cuts the cost from the raw material after years of development.

However, there is still an obvious environmental problem with the new printer, paper waste. If I just need to print a dice, it will waste 95% of the total paper used as 15mmx15mm is printed on standard A4 paper. For the typical 3D printer, there is no waste at all, the amount of usage is just related to the volume of the model.

In conclusion, with unlimited color in each model (as it is color printer based), realistic and detailed model would be one of the best presentation material for architects and other product designers. 3D printing is interesting as the way it works is similar to using plan and section to build a house, from 2D to 3D. So, it may be able to print a real house with inputting different type of material to the printer, or it may let people download the product from the web and print it out at home when you just suddenly need it. There are too many possibilities in this technology, I am curious to see what it can be done in the future.

Lastly, just include a link about a brand new material that I just found from the comment of the TED talk, you may interest in it. It is called growing material and is green from the very bottom.
Here is the link:
& A Tiny house project using this material:

Jeremy Hartono said...

One of my family members broad this topic up few weeks ago and she was asking me if I am aware that there is a printer that prints in 3D. I was surprised since it was always been in my imagination that one-day there will be a 3D printer that prints almost anything and now it came to reality. The discussion went and one of my brother comment that it won’t be cheap and surely it would not be affordable for university students to print their models in 3D. However, looking at this new Mcor IRIS 3D printer seems to be good news for architecture students or anyone related to this field.

According to a post by Todd Grimm from, The Mcor IRIS price is $15,866 per year for the three-year Free D plan that includes maintenance and supplies, which I think is still reasonably priced for a 3D printer. (link: Mcor claims that a model produced by MCOR IRIS will be 20 times cheaper than many competing technologies. A plain white model will only cost $0.0041 per cubic centimeter and a full colour model will cost 0.04 to 0.05 per cubic centimeter, which I think might even be affordable for students. (link:

I think there are lots of advantages from this new technology in terms of practicality and accuracy. Firstly, A lot of people have been having a problem storing their previous models for records. With the new technology, I think we might not have to store anymore models as the printer will allows us to print our previous models anytime needed and it will only took space on the computer for saving the 3D file rather than filling up your own room with lots of models. Secondly, with the new technology, I think we do not have to carry our models around anymore, as you can print out your models in different places. It will be very useful for a presentation to a client overseas. Thirdly, I think the fact that the Mcor IRIS printer used ordinary A4 printing paper as the base material is also an advantage as it is very easy to find, reliable and safe. Other 3D printer used plastics and other solid materials, which have created several cases in the US that people have produced weapons out of the 3D printers and there is a possibility that kids will easily print out dangerous things. Fourthly, I also think that this technology will produce more accurate models in terms of measurement and colouring than any human can make.

However, I found several disadvantages of this new technology. Firstly, this particular Mcor IRIS 3D printer only allows to you build models as large as an A4 size paper, which limits us from building a larger scale models. But, there are possibilities that you can print the models in small different parts and glue them together. Secondly, there are lots of architects out there that uses model making as a design process, which helps them to progress through their final design rather than playing 3D models in Sketchup and print them out. But still, this new technology is good for a final model. Thirdly, paper should be able to be recycled. However, I am not sure if glued bricks of paper can be recycle or not. They might have a water-soluble glue to answer the problem, but I can’t be sure about this. Fourthly, the Mcor IRIS uses paper compared to plastics or other solid material printers, which limits us to build mechanisms or thin parts or structure as it will be very fragile. (link:

In conclusion, I think the machine is still a positive thing to have as it can be use to improve education, architecture, communication, marketing, instant prototype making and many more. I think this type of 3D printing is the future of model making and will be mass produce and will be more affordable to personal use. I think University like UNSW should have this facility soon to educate students with the latest technology.

Yi Ding said...

As a student, I am really happy to hear this news that we can use standard copy paper as material for 3D printing, which means one of the limitations of 3D printing has been fixed - paper is really convenient compare to the other materials required for, and in my point of view, much easier to handle. As designers, it is much easier and efficient than hand making model and laser cut, we are allowed to have more than one million colours in our models, that makes the model accurate and rich in detail, which will be great when presenting to our clients. As for further propagation in the future, it is much easier for most of us, since paper is a universal material that we familiar with and use every day, it is non-toxic and can be recycled directly.

When I first heard the technology of 3D printing years ago, I imagined that it will be really efficient and cool if we use it in our design, but it is very expensive and needs certain knowledge to operate, it seems not likely to use 3D printing in our everyday life.

After reading this post, I searched on internet to get more information on 3D printing, and I found my previous understanding of 3D printing was too limited. As the technology grows, 3D printing machines are becoming cheaper than before, and there are domestic usage type of machine available now. Conor MacCormack, the co-founder and CEO of Mcor, hopes that: “ within the next year, shoppers will be able to upload a 3D image and, for about $30, get a fully detailed 3D rendering ready for pick-up at their local Staples store. ” 1

On the other hand, still, people are not ready for this revolutionary technology yet. It is not mature enough to the average consumer, and we face many problems when actually using it. The first 3D printable gun was nearly completed in USA, with run counter to the government - we currently don’t have the law to control the usage of this. “Trying to regulate 3D printing may be an invitation to disaster, no matter how honorable the intentions.”2 And, without the government’s support, currently it is not easy to popularize 3D printing, for example, because a large scale 3D printing machine is still very expensive, most manufactures prefer to reduce the cost rather than to innovate, even though 3D printing saves time and it is much accurate since the product is directly produced follow the computer drawing.

But it is obvious and undoubtedly that 3D printing has tremendous potential. As 3D printing is growing in leaps and bounds, it serves more and more people, start to arouse the public’s attention, it might be the future technology and brings a revolutionary change to the world, and I’m looking forward to witness more possibilities of 3D printing in the future.

Xiaoran Ding said...

This blog was eye-catching as I have been doing research into 3D printing technology for a couple of months after attending an industrial design exhibition displaying 3d printed modules and products. Additionally, I have been thinking of getting one of these machines as the price is becoming more reasonable and a few decades of development have them approaching perfection.

This technology in architecture industry has gone through the same process as digital drawing thirty years ago. Traditional model making, plus the design process, may take tons of materials and time to complete a well-designed project, even up to a year. Referring to the Dutch architect Piet Meijs
’s talk on YouTube ( ), a design process using the combined technology of digital modelling and 3D printing may take as little as two weeks to achieve the best outcome and presentation to the customer.

As mentioned in Steve King’s blog, Now THAT is 3D printing, 3D printed models will be more affordable, durable and environmental friendly than conventional architecture models. Whether built by the paper based IRIS or using PLA plastic, a mdoel will cost less in energy manual processing and shipping. Also, models can be reused for other model printing as some of the technology only requires plastic grains.

3D model technology will not just be used for architecture model making; realistic houses can also be built by this simple and unitary process. Back to early this year, the Dutch architect Janjaap Ruijssenaars released a design for the world’s first 3D-printed house - a continuous looping Mobius strip. This process not only cuts the expensiveness of traditional manual construction (especially in developed countries) but maximises the freedom of exploring new structures.

Although 3D printing has brought improvements in the manufacturing industry and in architectural model making, it has a few negatives. There is a limitation of materials – currently only using plastic, paper, metal and ceramic – reducing the possibility of creating new high performance materials. Development into the use of mixed and new materials is ongoing. Also, conventional manufacturers will eventually be replaced by high-speed and precise machines. Job loses will become a problem not only in the manufacturing industry but also for architects. Everyday people will be able to customise their dream home by using SketchUp and clicking the ‘Start’ button. Who will pay design fees?

The link to the news of Dutch 3D-printed real house:

The link to material using in 3D printing:

Anonymous said...

3D printing as the recently most advanced technology is truly attractive to an architecture student like me, especially the paper-based one. The first thought coming to my mind was its economy image.
In the link provided(, I have discovered few features of Mcor IRIS, including the very reasonably stated price and its non-toxic material and process of printing, it is friendly and easy to use compare to other 3D printers in the industry and with substantial and exclusive selection of colours, however, there are still something before it could qualify itself as eco-friendly.
There are many other technologies and products in the 3D printing industry, yet, the general principle stays the same, that is to convert 3D model into 2D layers, the accumulated layers then form the object( The paper-based Mcor IRIS is based on this theory as well, what's more is it uses standard paper as layer creates a cubic form with the object 'drew' on each glued slice, like archaeology, one have to weeding the residual to see the model inside(, this method produces the amount of paper that would either be wasted or recycled with low efficiency and additional cost. To recycle or reuse is never so friendly then not to waste. In addition, say creates a hollow object like a building with interior is hard enough to 'weeding' than to make a model by hand, and in that case, the pilled off paper would be much more than the actual model used; a solid model which does not require a hollow inside may have more efficient ways to represents the same quality, such as using ceramics art.
The most common types of 3D printing includes thermoplastic extrusion, syringe deposition, Photopolymer exposed by standard HD projector/deformable mirror device(DMD), Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) and MEM (Melted and Extrusion Modeling)( majority of them make use of chemical reactions, these technologies more or less generate chemical substances that are toxic or harmful. The advantage of paper-based 3D printing introduced in this article is it is chemical free. Even though, non-toxic does not equal to eco-friendly, to my point of view, there is still long way to go to achieving this goal in every artificial industry.
3D print as a recently raised industry having a lot potentials contributing to different areas of profession in the coming future, it is almost a formidable invention to just imagine, wearing 3D printed clothes, using products and furniture...a comment by professor Richard Hague stated:

“We have technology that can make more complex things than we can design.”
Prof Richard Hague, AMRG
I believe this is going to be a innovation and revolution in the industry.

Anonymous said...

Thus far I think I always have a strong sense of 3D relate technologies, this post undoubtedly get all my attention, it also remind me while I first saw something similar is from a scene of movie "Jurassic Park III" (The Rapid prototype), when I look at that back in the past, I was dreaming about it, hoping one day technologies look alike may go more popular that people can actually use it in their own field.

When I was multimedia student, knowledge I had been given about 3D print is it give a very well representation but expensive, and it’s understandable. Things changed after I read this post, more research I have been done which I found 3D print was up to another certain level which it is so much advance. "Mcor IRIS 3D Printer" is not only just provide an easier and efficient way to craft model than hand making and laser cut, but also it is cheaper to use universal material paper as material rather than some ingredient which is uncommon and it come with tons of colors. (

However, as others mentioned in their comments, the "Size". I also argue that when we require a large scale 3D print model with "Mcor IRIS 3D Printer" since it need one surface of the model fit within a standard A4 paper, it will be an issue. Still there are many possibilities to make a large scale model in pieces but it might also make it unrecyclable and cost extra budget also in some different situation it is not going to meet what we request for.

Altogether, while it might be few weak points that we spoke about the 3D print, the point can certainly be made that the 3D printing which has dominated ideas about popularization for nowadays, is in huge progress. (

DGS 3D said...

Hi Everyone,
we're really glad you guys are talking about this paper 3D printer, because it has definitely brought 3D printing a long way towards accessibility for the masses.

The co-inventor of the Mcor IRIS, Dr Conor MacCormack, was in a class of 60 or more engineering students at uni, and each year only ONE student was allowed to 3D print their design. This is what got him thinking "there has to be a better way"...

I'd like to help you with a couple of the valid issues you raised: Firstly, the issue of the 'wasted' support paper if you're only building one small object like a die - the build can be stacked on all axes with as many objects as you can fit. So, it's up to the printer, really, how much support/build there is per print.

Secondly, as to whether the built parts are recyclable - yes, it is water-based adhesive, and biodegradable ink. You can even build with pre-used copy paper.

Thirdly, as to whether paper models are fragile - the built models from the IRIS are surprisingly robust. They feel like wood carvings or blocks of wood, so designers don't need to worry that it is a fragile, papery material - far from it!
And you can use these models straight out of the printer, whereas some other 3D technologies require infiltration of the built parts to strengthen them.

I genuinely hope this helps answer some of your valid concerns. It is helpful to those of us marketing the Mcor IRIS that we understand what queries people have about the product.

Thanks for discussing this and spreading the good word about paper 3D printing. If you are students, you are exactly the people our esteemed inventors had in mind when they wanted to make 3D printing more accessible!

Here's to low cost, easy-to-use 3D printing for all; and hopefully you will all soon get the chance to see this wonderful machine for yourselves.

The first Mcor IRIS arrives in Australia in July 2013.

Best regards to you all, and good luck with your studies.

Joanne Coorey
Marketing and Communications