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Researchers Create 3D Holograms On Printed Materials Using Normal Ink

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A sample of Lumii's ink design with holographic effects. The MIT start-up has partnered with Portico Brewing to produce beer cans that have three-dimensional images on its packaging.   ( Lumii )

A start-up from Massachusetts Institute of Technology has created images that, in certain angles, look holographic using only regular ink.

Printing Three-Dimensional Images

This month, Portico Brewery will be releasing 5,000 redesigned cans of Fuzzy Logic beer that feature two-dimensional prints that appear three-dimensional. The unique cans was the result of Portico Brewery's collaboration with Lumii, the company that came up with the technology that can create three-dimensional images without using special films and lenses.

To achieve this, Lumii utilizes a complex algorithm that precisely places tens of millions of dots on both sides of a clear film to create depth.

"You can formulate this as a machine learning problem or a signal processing problem, but basically at the end of the day we think of it as an optimization problem," shared Tom Baran, founder of Lumii.

"To produce a three-dimensional image, you could place dots of ink so that you get a perfect rendition of a three-dimensional image from one perspective. Then you could rotate the print and say, 'Well now the perspective is off, so I need to readjust all of the dots,' and that will mess things up from the first perspective. We make it possible to have a three-dimensional image using just two layers of ink from as many perspectives as possible."

Beause the company does not have its own printing press, it relies on regular packaging manufacturers who are usually surprised to learn that the machinery they have been using for decades can create such an effect.

For the Fuzzy Logic beer cans, Lumii is using a 45-micron-thick shrink sleeve to print the design.

More Than Just Beer Can Packaging

Baran said that the deal with Portico Brewery will exhibit Lumii's capability to produce eye-catching three-dimensional packaging on a massive scale without expensive and special materials. He envisions the application of the technology across multiple industries.

"The Portico project is verification that what we're doing works with a material that can be applied across a broad range of different markets," added Baran. "Just the fact that it's working on those types of materials is a big deal for us."

In fact, the Lumii's technology has already caught the attention of the security sector for applications like ID cards that use foils to achieve the holographic effects.

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