3D Prints on a Wide-Format Printer? Thanks to Lumii, Now You Can

In anticipation of the impending 3D content that’s sure to hit our smart phones, cameras and web browsers in the coming years, the clever minds at the Boston-based start-up, Lumii, have developed a way to print 3D photos on films using a standard aqueous wide-format printer.

“When we look at the next generation of content, we believe it’s going to be 3D content,” says Lumii CEO and founder Tom Baran. “When we talk to printers about it, they get very excited about the prospect of using the equipment they’ve already invested in.”

Baran, along with Matt Hirsch, Lumii CTO and founder, collaborated while pursuing their Ph.D.s at MIT to develop the technology that makes the 3D prints possible. Using light field technology, Lumii creates unique patterns from 3D scans or photos and then prints those patterns on two films — one clear and one translucent — to create the 3D effect once the layers are joined. When those prints are lit from behind, the 3D image pops out even more.

The key, Hirsch and Baran say, is using very high-resolution printers and the right materials. When searching for their translucent film for the rear layer of the 3D prints, they inquired at a local print shop, which is where they discovered LexJet 8 Mil Absolute Backlit film.

“We did a very unconventional analysis in that we looked at [the backlit film] under a microscope,” Hirsh says. “We looked at: How well does it hold ink; does it have the right opacity; did it bleed, etc. We tried a variety of things, and we really like the way this backlit performs.”

Although Lumii is still in its early stages, the plan is to offer their 3D prints to customers who upload their own 3D files to an ecommerce site. Lumii will then manage the fulfillment of those orders by working with print shops that have the right type of printer and use Absolute Backlit and other qualified products.

Possible applications for the technology could be endless — bus stop signage, movie theater posters and promotional graphics, to name a few. Hirsch and Baran certainly see digital décor, interior design and art installations as big potential, as well.

“It’s interesting how there’s a lot of room to add value in the print world that’s yet to be tapped,” Baran says. “Especially when you couple that with this massive 3D content that’s going to grow exponentially over the next five years.”

Check out another recent example in this video:

Made in the Shade: Fine Art Paper Adds an Artsy Finish

Getting a glimpse into Michael Macone’s world is a crafty art-lover’s dream. Macone runs The Potter’s Shed in Shell Lake, Wis., a cool art gallery-meets cafe-meets do-it-yourself art space-meets music venue. “It’s 50,000 square feet of art fun,” he says. He also runs Macone Clay, where he creates all sorts of clay projects including lamps, bowls, cups, plaques and much more.

One of Macone’s most popular items is the artsy lamps, which are almost entirely created in-house. The wood base is made in the woodshop, the body is extruded clay that’s manipulated while it’s still wet. The shade is printed on LexJet Sunset Textured Fine Art Paper 310g.

When he first began making the lamps, he was purchasing shades from a home supply store and hand-painting each one. “That was a lot of fun for a while … but the painting was arduous and stressful,” he says. “We had to be careful not to over-saturate the paint, and eventually it turned into a big bother rather than fun.”

But the lamps, which sell for $225, were gaining popularity, and he needed a solution. That’s when he came across printed lamp shades at a wholesale event, and decided to give it a try. “It was a big learning curve getting the template in the digital realm, but we figured it out,” he says. He was working with a different brand of paper, which was fine, he says, but his LexJet rep introduced him to the Textured Fine Art Paper, and he made the switch.

“It ended up being thicker and felt better on the frame,” Macone says. “It looked noticeably better, which surprised us. When we compared it – the color just snapped more.”

Macone’s lamp shade designs start sometimes as pencil sketches or photos or paintings that he manipulates in Photoshop to get the final design that pairs best with the lamp’s body, which is painted and enhanced with melted glass that drips elegantly down the edge.

He offers four lamp base styles and 20 shade options, and sells about 500 lamps a year through YouNeedArtNow.com, in The Potter’s Shed gallery and at art fairs around the country.

A long-time LexJet customer, Macone also uses his Epson wide-format printer to create collages with sweet artwork and sayings that are adhered to wooden plaques. For those, he opts for LexJet Premium Archival Matte Paper, which he finishes with a UV coating that he also utilizes for the lamp shades.

“It’s a good quality photo paper that we’ve been using for a couple of years,” he says. “We always have lots of colors [in our designs] and just have a lot of fun with the art.”

Prints That Win: Blowing Out of a Creative Funk

A small junk store in Rio, Nevada was the last place Kelly Zimmerman expected to capture her Sunset Print Award-winning image, “Blowing Out of a Creative Funk.” However, she was instantly captivated by the old fans sitting in the store window.

“[The store] had this little display set up, and I loved the concept of all of these fans. I don’t know why, it just drew me in,” Zimmerman says. “The image alone wasn’t much to speak of, but I was just inspired by the fans with the crumpled papers.”

Prints That Win: Oriental Inspiration

On the day this Sunset Award-Winning photo was taken, photographer Steven Yahr was at a bridal portrait photoshoot. “The bride wasn’t there yet,” says Yahr, “and the image evolved from that scene.” The simple elegance of the shot is true to his signature style.

“I just did a program for a group in New York, showing some of the processing I do in photoshop to make images look different from rest,” he says, “I noticed that on almost all my images that have done well, they’re simple subjects that have an artistic flare to them.” He believes that balance of painterly backgrounds with simple subjects is ultimately what makes his images stand apart from the rest.

Café Décor Redux: Honoring Marc Chagall’s Vision

When Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Fla., decided to renovate its café, the designers wanted to pay homage to painter Marc Chagall’s dreamy vision of life and the quaint French town where he spent his final years. The redesign was timed with the gardens’ exhibit, Marc Chagall, Flowers, and the French Riviera: The Color of Dreams.

Known as the “City of Arts,” Saint Paul de Vence attracted artists of all types with its charm. The town’s Colombe d’Or Hotel & Restaurant was the inspiration for Selby Garden’s cafe revamp.

The café’s original wall décor included a series of framed botanical prints in dark, heavy frames. The re-design team removed the dated-looking prints and opted for a full wall mural, with a subtle backdrop of Saint Paul de Vence, France, overlaid with carefully selected Chagall quotes that captured his sensitive and introspective insights.

Working with print service provider, Now That’s a Wrap, the Selby team chose to cover the interior and exterior walls with LexJet Simple Flo Wrap Vinyl and Simple Flo Wrap Gloss UV laminate. The team also mimicked Chagall’s stained glass work by printing extra-saturated graphics on optically clear vinyl with an over-laminate, all mounted to plexiglass.

Watch the video above to see how the café’s new look came to life.

Choosing HEYtex for High-end Outdoor Signage

In the competitive world of business, it’s no surprise that large enterprises demand that their signage applications and designs be top-notch and eye-catching. For visual communications company Tone LLC, creating mesmerizing signage is its forte.

Focusing on large-format decorative printing and wall coverings, Tone’s work can be seen across the country, specializing in grand, large, and wide format graphics for construction, event and retail solutions. For Tone’s managing partner Steven Thompson, HEYtex 15 oz. Topaz DS and HEYtex 13 oz. TopazFLX Matte are his go-to option for dazzling and durable outdoor applications.

Tone’s work for French trunk and leather goods manufacturer, Goyard Paris (shown above), is one of its most recent applications featuring HEYtex products. In order to draw attention to Goyard’s new stores opening in San Francisco, Beverly Hills and Miami, Tone created storefront barricades to kick-start the brand’s awareness in the community.

The barricades were designed to feature Goyard’s logo, history excerpts, the grand opening date and even old photos of Goyard’s vintage storefronts from the past. The San Francisco application is designed to look like a high-fashion trunk, which quickly captures the attention of a passersby.

HEYtex offers gloss and matte finish materials with high tensile strength, ideal for the outdoor signage Tone creates. “It’s a nice, thick media,” Thompson says. “The denier count is really high compared to the different vinyl substrates, which is crucial for outdoor signage.”

Combined with an HP Latex 560 printer, the graphics are beautifully finished and scratch resistant – ready for Tone’s various high-end outdoor applications.