Most 3D printing is done with different types of plastic, but as we’ve said before, there’s more than one kind of machine that falls under the “3D printer” umbrella. Along with the devices that print organs and cars, there’s one that uses the last material you’d expect: printer paper.
Demonstrated in the video above, Mcor Technologies’ IRIS printer creates vivid models with relatively low cost materials. First, the user prints out 2D shapes on standard printer paper using special ink (it has to soak all the way through the paper, or there will be white spaces in the finished product.) Then the paper is fed through the IRIS one sheet at a time and cut down to the size of the finished model. The process repeats, with adhesive added constantly, until all of the sheets have been cut and glued into one solid mass.
The printer boasts vivid color and relatively low materials cost (though no word on how much this “special ink” runs for, but traditional 3D printing filament is about $50 USD a spool), and Mcor says the building process takes, on average, a few hours to overnight—similar to other options on the market. The biggest downside is the upfront cost: $15,866 per year for the three-year “Free D” plan, which includes materials. It’s a great deal for manufacturers hoping to constantly crank out awesome-looking prototypes and models, but not for households.