Vivid colors, sharp displacement: Mimaki 3D prints artists’ vision

There’s a form of wonder in 3D printing a creation. When we can reproduce faithfully the shape, the color, the feel of an artistic creation, and we can bring a virtual creative design into the physical world.

The Substance and Mimaki teams first joined forces in early 2019. At this time, the Substance team was working on a car design, the X-TAON, which would get the community creating wonderful designs with the Art Car Texturing contest. The Mimaki team produced a first X-TAON print, reproducing Damien Climent’s seminal interpretation of the car.

And then, the team 3D printed the winning cars, a great occasion to see the difference that texturing brought to the same model. “We were excited to learn more about the Substance products as we knew they were a great fit for the Mimaki 3DUJ-553 full color 3D printer. We started discussing how we could work together to show how the Substance software and the Mimaki printer seemed to be made for each other,” says Josh Hope, 3D Printing & Engineering Projects Manager at Mimaki.

X-TAON selected 3D prints. Courtesy of Mimaki
X-TAON selected 3D prints. Courtesy of Mimaki

At this point, two things happened.

The Substance team launched a second edition of the Meet MAT texturing contest, this time with displacement. The Substance team had no idea what to expect, and promptly got their collective minds blown upon seeing the incredible artwork created during the contest.

We chatted with each winner for a deeper look into their creative workflow. You can read all about their take on art direction here, displacement here, and texturing here.

Also, Substance Painter added the ability to export a displaced mesh.

“It basically cut the time to prepare the files in half!”

“Normally for us, this is a very busy time of year,” says Josh Hope, “with some of our bigger tradeshows going on such as Adobe MAX, AMUG, and RAPID+TCT which take a lot of prep and printing to get samples ready for the shows.” The shows being postponed allow the Mimaki team to focus quite a bit on printing the Meet MAT 2 winners.

The Mimaki team prepared a tutorial on Academy, follow along the steps to create your own 3D printable file right here.

There’s also an explanation of the process in this livestream:

The Substance Painter release, complete with the ability to export your displaced mesh, comes when the prints are almost complete. However, there is still some opportunity to explore the new feature, and Jaime Martinez, specialist of Additive Imaging and Integration, finds the experience quite enjoyable: “it basically cut the time to prepare the files in half!”

“The biggest advantage is that the exported mesh will have a surface with the best fidelity to the displacement map of the rendered mesh. It will allow designers with even a basic skill set to achieve high-quality and detailed shells.”

Jaime took all the Substance Painter files that each winner shared with him, and then worked on the file to translate the artists’ creations and what the printer could reproduce. Sometimes, compromises were necessary.

William Ruhlig

Art and render by William Ruhlig

Jaime: “Working the fur part of the penguin’s coat was the most difficult part. The mesh had to be adapted in a way that the printer can reproduce it as accurately as possible. I ended up separating that part of the surface to add a different displacement value and then did some smoothing with the sculpt tool in Blender.”

“The level of complexity and detail in the layers was mind-blowing. It was definitely not a surprise to see this entry as the winner.”

Adam Scott

Art and render by Adam Scott

“With this one getting a nice color for the metallic part was a bit problematic. Originally I felt that it was looking too flat when projecting the displacement on the mesh. I ended up playing with the contrast in the monkey’s face which helped quite a bit.”

“I particularly loved this one, because it takes me to that time when reading Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.”

Ayi Sanchez

Art and render by Ayi Sanchez

“For this entry, the main concern was to achieve a nice base color. Metallic colors can be challenging to reproduce with pigment inks, so it’s a little tricky to get the perfect color balance. Currently our 3D printer will use the color map (diffuse) to do the coloring, while the other maps will be ignored.”

“There is a very subtle carved detail with the character Ayi created in one arm. It is a good example showing the level of smoothness and accuracy that the 3DUJ-553 printer can achieve. The information in the head lever gauge is really clever too.”

Printing the student entries

Also printed by Jaime in the large garage where the magic happens, the three creations by Nikolay Marinov, Francesc Loyo Valls, and Floria Bobe. Check out the prints:

Each entry comes with its own challenge, again. Nikolay Marinov’s KukerMAT takes Jaime through a cultural trip: “It’s always fun to take a break from work and read about the rituals and customs of other countries.” The file, “virtually print-ready,” still needs small modifications, like a little change on the base to make sure the figuring will stand.

Francesc and Florian’s art share the same issue: “Metallic colors are always a challenge in any CMYK printing process, so hitting the color took some work.”

About Mimaki

Mimaki is traditionally a wide format inkjet printer manufacturer. We have been around since 1975 focusing on the signage, textile, and industrial printing markets. We released the 3DUJ-553 full color 3D printer at the end of 2017 with our first install happening in the US in January of 2018. The printer is really a natural progression from our flatbed UV printer products that we have been producing for the last 16 years. So Mimaki is really coming to 3D printing with a long history of highly accurate color output devices. We understand the challenges of an RGB to CMYK workflow and how important color fidelity is.

The 3DUJ-553 printer jets liquid photopolymer resin through eight industrial piezoelectric inkjet heads and uses UV-LED lamps to cure the resin to a solid. Along with the CMYK, white and clear resins, we also jet a water-soluble support material through the same heads. It is the only color 3D printer on the market today that can produce over 10 million unique colors.

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