Layers of soft fabric create flexible 3D objects.
Disney Research, a network of research labs that collaborate with academic institutions such as Carnegie Mellon University and Cornell University, has developed a new type of 3D printer that can form precise, yet soft and flexible 3D objects.
Instead of hard plastic, a sheet of fabric forms each layer of a 3D object. The printer uses a laser cutter to cut the sheet into printable layers, which are then bonded to previously printed layers using a heat-sensitive adhesive. Surrounding fabric in each layer provides a removable support structure for layers printed above it, and the process is repeated to build up the object layer by layer.
The printer can automatically feed two separate fabric types into a single print, which allows specially cut layers of conductive fabric to be embedded in the soft prints. Using this capability, the research team has created a 3D soft print with touch sensing capability and an LED display that uses conductive fabric coil for wireless power reception.
The research was recently presented at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Seoul, South Korea.
Source: Disney Research