Snapspheres creates a world of 360º photos
Snapspheres | Minnesota, USA
Snapspheres has some out-of-this-world ideas for its photography, like printing the surface of a whole planet on a globe.
Based in St. Louis Park, MN, USA, Snapspheres creates 360º photographs, printed on spherical structures that you can hold in your hands. The business says it 'is committed to making innovative and cool things' – an ethos demonstrated by its awesome photo-globes.
The concept for Snapspheres was born in 2017, when Brian Lukis and Matt Hartloff were working together at an injection moulding company. Matt developed a spherical structure that could be easily snapped together and Brian, a photographer, had an idea: 'What if we printed a 360º photo on there?'
They set about finding the perfect technology to do the job and found it in a Roland VersaUV LEF benchtop UV flatbed printer. This clever system can print directly to all kinds of shapes, including the curved tiles that make up the Snapspheres product.
“The LEF is perfect for our production.”
"The LEF is perfect for our production," says Matt. "It accommodates the curve of the tiles, and the bed fits all of the tiles required for one sphere. Plus, the print quality is fantastic."
The tiles are made from injection-moulded polycarbonate, which are assembled into spheres with the aid of magnets. The durable UV inks are compatible with hundreds of material types, so the tiles can be printed on directly and survive playtime.
"Polycarbonate doesn't shatter," says Brian. "The first thing kids want to do with the spheres is play egg toss, so it's fortunate that Roland's UV inks can take a beating!"
“The print quality is fantastic.”
The VersaUV can print ink and clear gloss in layers, so Brian and Matt can achieve some stunning finishes. The Snapspheres process involves laying down a surface coat of white ink, then printing the image, then adding a thick layer of gloss. "The gloss brings out the vibrancy of the colours – the images really pop," says Brian.
But there's more: the VersaUV LEF can even print textures. On the Snapspheres website Matt says that he's 'always loved globes', even from an early age, so the potential to print realistic models of planets is definitely exciting.
"With the LEF, we can stack up the gloss layers to create a relief map of features such as mountains," he says.
Snapspheres can print anything the client wants – landscapes from dream holidays, weddings, sports teams – even the whole world.
Request your FREE UV print guide
• 100+ direct printing application ideas
• 30+ potential markets
• Materials compatible for UV direct printing
• Overview of the personalisation industry
• Introduction to Roland’s three VersaUV LEF benchtop printers
• Case stories, profit potential and so much more