Since last few years now, the technology of 3D printing has become very common and companies are turning to this technology as it is an effective way of manufacturing products. Disney (NASDAQ:DIS) is conducting experiments with this technology, which has led to the creation of a printer through which flexible and soft products, like that of stuffed animals can be created.
Many 3D printers have been designed for printing materials onto specific points owing to the fact that fabric is used by this printer. An alternating technique has to be used by it imitating the layering and sewing of fabrics. The placement of fabrics is done on top of each other, layer after layer and then trimming is done with the help of a laser cutter. Then the layer is stuck below with heating glue. After the product is completed, it would look like a cube. Then, the extra fabric can be peeled away for revealing a detailed object which is inside.
Disney Research said in a blog post,
“We present a new type of 3D printer that can form precise, but soft and deformable 3D objects from layers of off-the-shelf fabric. Our printer employs an approach where a sheet of fabric forms, each layer of a 3D object. The printer cuts this sheet along the 2D contour of the layer using a laser cutter and then bonds it to previously printed layers using a heat sensitive adhesive.”
This technology could be used by researchers for creating a starfish toy which also functions as a computer touch sensor. Even an NFC-capable smartphone case can be created. There can be many important uses of this new technology, and since it can be used with conductive materials, it may be utilized in the manufacture and development of Next-Gen computer peripherals.
However, if you think this technology will change the 3D printing world, you’re wrong. As we can see from the video below, the printing time is longer than usual, and the adhesive layers look not durable enough to get tossed by small kids, in case of toys. And, you won’t see these expensive (as of now) soft 3D-printed toys in the store shelves soon. It’s still in prototype phase. The upgraded version with more durable adhesive layers and fast printing technology will come in coming years.
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