Shape, color, and gloss.
Those are an object’s three most salient visual features. Currently, 3D printers can reproduce shape and color reasonably well. Gloss, however, remains a challenge. That’s because 3D printing hardware isn’t designed to deal with the different viscosities of the varnishes that lend surfaces a glossy or matte look.
MIT researcher Michael Foshey and his colleagues may have a solution. They’ve developed a combined hardware and software printing system that uses off-the-shelf varnishes to finish objects with realistic, spatially varying gloss patterns. Foshey calls the advance “a chapter in the book of how to do high-fidelity appearance reproduction using a 3D printer.”
He envisions a range of applications for the technology. It might be used to faithfully reproduce fine art, allowing near-flawless replicas to be distributed to museums without access to originals. It might also help create more realistic-looking prosthetics. Foshey hopes the advance represents a step