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 player 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. Surrounding fabric in each layer is temporarily retained to provide a removable support structure for layers printed above it. This process is repeated to build up a 3D object layer by layer. Our printer is capable of automatically feeding two separate fabric types into a single print. This allows specially cut layers of conductive fabric to be embedded in our soft prints. Using this capability we demonstrate 3D models with touch sensing capability built into a soft print in one complete printing process, and a simple LED display making use of a conductive fabric coil for wireless power reception.
Cornell researchers in Hod Lipson’s Creative Machines Lab have 3-D printed a working loudspeaker, seamlessly integrating the plastic, conductive and magnetic parts, and ready for use almost as soon as it comes out of the printer.
It’s an achievement that 3-D printing evangelists feel will soon be the norm; rather than assembling consumer products from parts and components, complete functioning products could be fabricated at once, on demand.
Clogged printer nozzles waste time and money while reducing print quality. University of Missouri engineers recently invented a clog-preventing nozzle cover by mimicking the human eye. This video is a microscopic view of the nozzle operating.
Lawrence Bonassar, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, describes a cutting-edge process he has developed in which he uses a 3D Printer and “ink” composed of living cells to create body parts such as ears.