3D Printed Objects receive an Invisible Tracking Solution called BrightMarker.

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A revolutionary technique has emerged in the world of 3D printing that may make tracking printed objects much easier. Currently, tracking objects is necessary in certain situations due to regulatory requirements or the need for identification during the process. To address this, 3D models have been adapted to include visible tracking numbers or QR codes, while more advanced techniques involve embedding invisible tracking codes into the 3D model itself. However, a new method called “BrightMarker” has been developed by researchers, offering a unique and interesting solution to this tracking problem.

BrightMarker works by utilizing multimaterial 3D printing and a secondary filament that reflects light differently than regular filaments. These special filaments have the ability to shift the reflected light frequency to an infrared fluorescent level, rendering them bright but invisible to the human eye. The extrusions from these filaments are, however, detectable by infrared sensors, which are easily obtainable and cost-effective. To further enhance this technique, the researchers created software that can modify a 3D model to include the geometry for the infrared material. They also developed hardware modules that can be attached to various devices to easily detect the markers in real-time from captured images.

The resulting 3D prints, when observed through appropriate infrared sensors, display the embedded pattern with ease. The team also developed software for detecting these patterns, and it can be used with different sensor hardware. The magic behind the bright filaments lies in fluorescence, a physical phenomenon where a material absorbs light at one wavelength and emits it at a longer wavelength. By shifting the illumination from shorter to longer wavelengths, the fluorescent color becomes more saturated and enhances its detectability. This makes fluorescent materials particularly useful for imaging and sensing applications.

To put their theory into practice, the researchers added a near-infrared fluorescent dye to a standard ABS filament and conducted experiments. This technique proved to be independent of the original filament color, allowing for a flexible and adaptable solution. The researchers conclude that BrightMarker offers an easy-to-use solution for marker-based tracking, without affecting the object’s appearance or shape.

This breakthrough has the potential to become a key sub-technology for FFF 3D printers. It could easily be integrated into printers with IDEX or dual extrusion capabilities. Once implemented, we can expect to see an array of exciting new applications that leverage this method of invisible part tagging. For now, the research team has made their code and tools available on their website, hoping to expand the toolkit for the fabrication community.

In summary, the development of BrightMarker represents a significant advancement in the field of 3D printing. By incorporating infrared fluorescent material into prints, objects can be easily tracked with the use of inexpensive sensors. This technique has the potential to revolutionize various industries and expand the possibilities of 3D printing.

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