New words, or words with new definitions, pop up regularly in the 3D printing industry. One of the latest words is Voxel.
According to Wikipedia, “a voxel represents a value on a regular grid in three-dimensional space. These values are frequently used in the visualization and analysis of medical and scientific data.”
According to the dictionary, the term voxel is “commonly used in computer-based modeling and graphic simulation. This voxel is an array of elements of volume that constitute a notional three-dimensional space, especially each of an array of discrete elements into which a representation of a three-dimensional object is divided.”
And, according to others, voxel is a takeoff of the word Pixel. Pixels are a common term in photography. Pixels are the dots that are printed (or emit light) at a specific number per inch (“dpi”), at a specific size, and with a specific color. The 3D analog of pixel is “voxel,” where a voxel has depth and a pixel is more of a two-dimensional reference.
Then HP introduced its first 3D printer—the Multi-Jet Fusion 3D printer. This printer enabled designers to individually address volume elements HP labeled “voxels.”
What’s the importance of addressing individual bits of powder 3D printing build material? According to HP, it enables designers to control the physical properties of each voxel. Thus, designers can decide properties such as strength, look, feature detail, and so on at any and every voxel point.
According to HP, voxels form a thin layer that is a slice of a part’s cross-section, and many such layers are stacked to form an object.
Specifying the properties of each voxel defines a 3D-printed part point-by-point over its surfaces and within its volume.
With the HP printer, a voxel is either fused or not—this is a reference to agents HP adds to the print material during an object build. The agents give the built parts a range of physical and functional properties, and even color.
The added agents are known as Fusing and Detailing Agents. They control the fusing of selected voxels and the edges between fused and unfused regions in each layer.
Another agent is known as a Transforming Agent. It imparts mechanical and physical properties within and across a single part or among separate parts printed simultaneously in the build unit.
Transforming Agents control the interaction of the Fusing and Detailing Agents with each other as well as modify the properties of the fused material. By depositing Transforming Agents voxel-by-voxel, designers can produce parts that cannot be made by other methods.
The Transforming Agents can deliver:
–Dimensional accuracy and detail
–Control surface roughness, texture, and friction coefficient
–Deliver greater tensile strength, elasticity, hardness, and other material properties
–Add electrical and thermal conductivity properties to an object
–Control opacity or translucency in plastics
— Add color: embedded and at the surface