Extreme Realistic Printed 3D Holograms

A research team from the French company Ultimate Holography developed an innovative printing technique to make 2D images appear as 3D holograms. The new technology comes with a large dynamic range and high-quality colors and some more advantages over common hologram techniques.

3D holograms

Researchers have created a new printing technology to produce more realistic and colorful holograms. The innovative printer could be used to develop high-resolution recreations of a wide variety of objects such as scenes for museum displays, architectural models or advertisements, which do not require glasses.

An Innovative New Printer

The French company Ultimate Holography developed a printing technique which lets 2D images appear to be 3D holograms. The 15-year research aimed to develop a hologram printing technique that has all the advantages of modern printing technologies while eliminating common drawbacks such as expensive lasers, slow speed and flawed colors. This ambitious goal was reached by developing the Chimera printer with low-cost commercial lasers and high-speed printing. This enables the team to produce holograms with high-quality color and a large dynamic range.

Common holographic printing technologies had limited color range and saturation. The new printer uses a special highly sensitive photo material which enables it to print holograms at up to 60 to 80 centimetres. Furthermore, brightness and clarity are much better than in previous printing techniques.

“The full-color holographic material we developed provides improved brightness and clarity while the low-power, continuous-wave lasers make the system easy to use,”

stated Yves Gentet, research team leader at Ultimate Holography.

The printer creates full parallax holograms from 3D computer generated models or scans, with a field of view spanning of 120 degrees. Therefore, the printed objects are viewable in all directions and appear three-dimensional.

How to Develop a New Printer

The creation process of the innovative technology started with a carefull research and analysis of previous holographic technologies to fully understand the mechanisms. Not an easy attempt in such a complex field:

“The companies involved in developing the first two generations of printers eventually faced technical limitations and closed,“

said Gentet.

„Our small, self-funded group found that it was key to develop a highly sensitive photo material with a very fine grain rather than use a commercially available rigid material like previous systems.“

The final Chimera printer got red, green and blue low-power wave lasers with a special anti-vibrating mechanical system to prevent the holographic plate from moving. Additionally, the system got shutters that allow to regulate the exposure of each color within milliseconds. The innovative technique enables the team to print holograms in half the time common printers need.

For the future the team sees the possibility to expand their technology to medical and other advanced applications, as technology, especially 3D software, improves and new opportunities to combine systems come up.