The two professional level 3D printers that build parts in color are the Zprinter from 3D Systems and the Iris from Mcor Technologies. Earlier this year, Mcor Technologies announced its Iris full color 3D printer at the Rapid show and recently at Euromold. The Zprinter uses ink jetted into the build powder. The Iris, however, uses a different technique for creating color parts. Dr. Conor MacCormack, CEO of Mcor, discusses this technology.
Now, I would assume that paper 3D printed objects would primarily be for show. However, Dr. MacCormack discusses how you can use some of these parts as living hinges, particularly in packaging applications, and with certain post processing steps, you can enhance a part’s ruggedness.
One interesting application is the use of these paper printed parts for certain types of investment casting:
The idea of having 3D printers available at office supply type retailers just went from future theory to reality when Mcor became the first company to work with Staples, enabling anyone to obtain a 3D-printed part. This arrangement will begin in Europe, as Dr. MacCormack mentions, but eventually users here in the U.S. should be able to order a 3D printed paper part from Staples, and either have it delivered or pick it up at their local store.