Fraunhofer IGD, an international research institute in Applied Visual Computing, has optimized its Cuttlefish 3D printer driver for Stratasys PolyJet 3D printing, and is working collaboratively with Stratasys on future software enhancements.
Full-color, multi-material PolyJet 3D printing brings incredible realism to product designers and other creative professionals, with up to eight materials printed in one work step. Fraunhofer’s Cuttlefish software package first began supporting PolyJet systems in 2017 via the GrabCAD Voxel Print interface. Fraunhofer IGD has now improved existing and added new algorithms, which enables companies to save costs while producing prints with better geometric and color accuracy.
Philipp Urban, Head of 3D Printing Technologies at the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research IGD, explains the role played by Cuttlefish: “When it’s an issue of optimization for mass production, specific color requests or degrees of translucency, nesting or individual color calibration, that’s where we come in.”
Since 2014, Urban’s team has been developing software that makes it possible to work with multiple print materials at the same time to exactly reproduce the geometry and colors (including translucencies and fine shading transitions) of the original and to simulate the printout on the screen in advance. Cuttlefish has already played its part in producing hundreds of thousands of high-quality PolyJet 3D prints for customers in a range of industries.
Universities and research institutes that use PolyJet printers as part of their 3D printing research can use the plug-in functionality of Cuttlefish that allows them to conveniently integrate their own methods and software components into the Cuttlefish workflow. It means that researchers do not have to program everything themselves but can build on the expertise already available at Fraunhofer IGD.
Animation studio and Stratasys customer LAIKA has already recognized the advantage of both technologies. For the stop-motion movie Missing Link, more than 106,000 facial expressions were 3D printed with Cuttlefish. The biggest challenge was that the creation of lifelike models required many different color gradations – each shade had to match exactly that of the preceding image.