The Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS) in collaboration with researchers at Cornell University and Carnegie Mellon University, have developed a unique new 3D printer that uses a rather simple concept to create soft fabric based 3D models.
We have come across a lot of 3D printers in the last couple of years and since its inception they have presented a common problem. All the previous 3D printers made their object hard and rigid after printing. Initially, 3D printers were primarily used to print three dimensional objects like organ models and several replicas.
As users envision a whole new wave of opportunities in 3D printing like food and fabric, Disney and its research partners are looking to counter the issue by making use of textiles to print soft and bendable objects. It should be noted that the 3D printer developed by Disney is still in its initial stages of testing, and is yet to become a commercial product.
However, Disney is aiming at exploring the possibility to further enhance the technology that will one day print customized soft bendable objects quite similar to stuffed toys. The mechanics of the new printer are largely the same as for any other printer, but this particular model requires users to place their thin layered sheet that could be cotton or any other soft fabric in place of hard sheets or plastic, then a high power laser is used to carve out the bottom most layer of the sheet, which is treated with a heat sensitive adhesive.
The entire process is repeated again layer by layer and the outer layer is then removed once the object is printed. Disney has shown off a video of a printed prototype of a bright red rabbit that shows the flexibility of the product along with a star shaped object that work as a touch sensor which can be connected to a wireless charges. The resolution of the objects is still not up to standard as compared to its competitors and the product lacks durability, which should be handled carefully. Disney Research is actively working on several commercial projects having a total of six offices around the world.
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