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iPrint Pure 3D film – media review

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iPrint Pure 3D film – review

A ‘holographic’ print medium

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When recently visiting Antalis, a locally based paper supplier, Keith Cooper was shown an interesting plastic print medium, that would work in our Canon iPF8300 printer.

We’ve kindly been sent a sample, and Keith has been looking at a material far from our normal fine art print work.

phone photo post linearisation

About the 3D film

test pattern, printed on 3d filmThe 500 micron polypropylene film has a holographic pattern embossed on it, and the best way of describing it’s ‘look’ is printable bubble-wrap.

That however doesn’t do justice to the reaction of people picking up a print, when they realise that the apparent centimetre or so of ‘depth’ in the media, is a holographic illusion.

It’s just a fairly stiff plastic 500 micron film.

It’s very difficult to show this feeling of depth here, but I’ve a couple of cross-eye stereo images that may (if they work for you) give some of the ‘feel’ for this particular media.

As a fine art printer, I’m not looking to produce my photos in such a way, but I was very interested in how it could be profiled and used on our Canon iPF8300 printer.

Paper details (PDF), available in the UK via Antalis McNaughton (0870 6079014)


Specifications (from Antalis)

3d polyprop film specifications list

The tests here are from a 36″ wide 20m roll, using the version for water based inks.

sizes available for iprint pure 3D polyprop film

Media settings and using ICC profiles

For our normal printing, I’ll create ICC paper profiles for any new paper. For our iPF8300, I’ll also create a custom media configuration, which is a useful step in maximising our fine art print quality.

The version of the film I’m using needs the matte black ink, so I’ve selected a similar base media type to create my custom version, and given it a name I’ll remember. The print adjustment function of the printer (which measures test prints) fell over when trying to measure the material (not a good sign for profiling).

setting custom media type for printer

I’m printing on a 36″ roll, from Photoshop, with no colour adjustment, to create a profiling target.

As a photographer, I work in RGB – obviously software and set-up will differ if you’re working in a CMYK based environment.

printing colour test patterns

Here are two targets, one (left) for automated reading with my i1 iSis, and the other for reading by hand with an i1 Pro 2

I’m using X-rite’s i1Profiler software for profile creation.

I do quite a bit of testing work in colour management, and was interested to see how my normal kit would work with something like this – well out of my normal range of experience.

two profling targets

As I rather suspected it would, the holographic background pretty comprehensively killed the measurement process…

failure of printer profiling software

After a few more measurement attempts, I decided to go for a simple linearisation of output, taking manual measurements of a large 21 step test strip.

21 step wedge for linearisation

Using ColorPort software (X-rite) and a technique I created for linearising monochrome prints, I’ve a basic output curve. This is printed with no colour adjustment applied in the print driver.

Since the measurements in the file are by hand, and averaged by hand, I’ve thrown my normal precision out of the window for this one. The holographic pattern just messes with readings too much.

printer output curve

A simple Photoshop adjustment curve counters the non linearity shown in the graph above.

adjustment curve

Two examples show the improvement.

Before linearisation.

image printed without linearisation

After linearisation.

image printed after linearisation

I’d note that one of the spot readings for the basic media shows a fairly even reflectiveness and a slight peak from optical brighteners (OBAs), although I suspect that it might be slight fluorescence from the polypropylene itself, rather than the ink receptor coating.

spectral response of the 3d film

My standard test for OBAs uses a blue/violet laser pointer (~420nm) which lights up even small quantities of anything that fluoresces.

Note too, the embossed pattern on the top surface of the film.

blue laser shows fluorescense of plastic

Print Quality

Images with strong saturated colours and blacks will print solidly on the film, but some experimentation is needed for finer detail, if it is not to be lost in the background holographic pattern.

pattern test print

Detail for blacks and other solid colours is crisp.

The water based inks are not overly prone to scratching, but not as robust as some solvent ink based examples I saw.

The 3D effect

The images below are stereo pairs for cross eye fusion.

If you cross your eyes, to move the right image over the left (or vice versa) you will get three images of the phone – the central one should be visible in 3D and give a real feel for the depth you get with the plastic film. This takes a bit of practice, and doesn’t work for everyone (sorry if it doesn’t – this was the best way I could show the overall look of the film, on a web page)

stereo image pair to show 3d print effect

There is a 1700 pixel wide version that you can open in a new window

This second version has a colour test target taped to a window

2nd stereo image pair to show 3d print effect

There is a 1500 pixel wide version that you can open in a new window

The image below may also help – move your mouse over the image to see how it changes as you move it slightly. The ‘bubble wrap’ pattern seems to be about a centimetre behind the printed surface.

Original ImageHover Image

Conclusions – 3D film

A very interesting print medium – the reactions of people picking up some of my test prints were a universal fascination with the perceived depth of the material and the way it changed as you moved.

I was reminded of a description of lasers in the early 1960’s as ‘a solution looking for a problem’ – in many ways the challenge of using such film, is not the technical aspects of printing on it, but why you’d choose to use it. Then again I’m not a graphic designer.

I note that the plastic is stiff enough to be cut, folded and assembled into solid shapes, making for some interesting packaging designs.

A 500 micron polypropylene film, embossed with a pattern giving the illusion of around 1cm depth.

Versions available for UV Cure and Solvent based inks as well as the one for water based inks tested here on a Canon iPF8300.

iPrint Pure 3D polypropylene film is available in the UK from Anatalis McNaughton

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