The research group of Prof. Frank Scheffold at the University of Fribourg has succeed in creating iridescent plastic cylinders with a 3D printer.
Microscopic or nanoscopic structures can make an object appear to have color, without use of pigment. Examples in nature include butterfly wings and bird feathers, but these are ordered, crystalline structures. Using a high definition 3D printer, a research group at the University of Fribourg has produced a new amorphous (non-crystalline) material with interesting capabilities in this field. The material is an irregular network of microscopic plastic cylinders. It selectively reflects light in the infrared range, and also dramatically reduces transparency. The new class of material has a wide range of potential applications, from packaging, automobile paint, and cosmetics to the processing and transmission of optical signals.