With the proliferation of tablets and digital readers, traditional publishing houses and printing presses may begin to feel a financial strain. Even if e-books can never replace the tangible experience of holding an actual book, there is the fear that physical books will become, if not obsolete, substantially less popular. As a result, one printing press is taking its 2D paper printing knowledge and taking it to the third dimension. In order to expand its operations in a post-e-book world, Arab Printing Press (APP) of Lebanon has brought aboard the Mcor IRIS, a full-color 3D printer that fabricates physical objects from CAD designs with standard A4 paper.
If you’ve seen an Mcor IRIS machine and its prints in the real world, it’s hard not to be impressed. The printing process involves a tungsten carbide blade that cuts out each layer of a print from a single piece of paper. Each layer is then glued to the next using a separate glue head. Dyed with a CMYK ink head, each paper that is cut and glued has been pre-printed on a separate, hidden 2D printer so that, upon completion, the IRIS produces a full-color 3D print made from eco-friendly paper.
For APP, a press with 45 years in the industry, taking on the Mcor IRIS to enter the 3D printing space was an obvious choice. The company’s Chairman and GM, Elie Raphael, tells ME Printer:
Our strategy is to expand and diversify into other sectors of printing industry and 3D printing has lot of potential. It opens new doors for us and expands our horizon. On the other hand we chose Mcor because their 3D printing equipment works with standard A4 papers. As one of the leading commercial printers in the Lebanon working with paper is lot easier for us than plastic materials that almost all the existing 3D printers use. The machine is ecofriendly and with a price tag of 45000 Euros is quite affordable.
Previously focused on pre-press, printing, folding, and binding for magazines, text books, brochures, and labels in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe, APP now has the ability to reach a whole new market with 3D printing. Raphael continues:
With new machine now we can target different industries and sectors such as engineering, education, graphic designers and more. There’s a huge potential for this machine. We are very pleased with the colour quality of the IRIS machine, its precision in printing the objects and of course the fact that it is a green technology, it fits perfectly with our ISO 14001 EMS.
The IRIS machine was purchased through Mcor’s authorized reseller in the region, More Than Printing (MTP), which services Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and Ivory Coast. MTP’s focus on the Middle East and Ivory Coast may spread 3D paper printing within the region, but Mcor seems keen on a strategy of adapting 2D printing presses to their technology, with the company’s Director of Marketing, Julie Reece, saying, “In many cases, we’ve seen companies that have been firmly entrenched in the 2D printing space make the logical expansion into 3D printing out of fiscal necessity in order to expand their portfolio of offerings. 3D printing, especially Mcor’s paper 3D printing technology, is the perfect complement to, and extension of, their existing portfolio. They are already paper experts, familiar with the benefits of using paper and they certainly have plenty of paper in stock.”
The future of tangible books is still up in the air, as they never run out of batteries and can serve to maintain a physical record of a text, but for 2D presses looking to hedge their bets, 3D paper printing is one way to offset their risks. That is, until 3D printing is rendered obsolete by a society of people immersed in virtual reality contact lenses and brain implants that make anything that doesn’t take place in second life seem brutish and medieval.