Disney’s research division has come out recently with a new 3D printer which works on fabric instead of harder material to make cuddly, cute Disney characters. It is a brain child of Disney research and uses sheets of fabric which includes felt, cotton or others. They are first cut with a laser and then treated with a layer of heat sensitive adhesive.
The next layer of cloth which has been cut by laser is then placed on top the first layer and the process continues ad infinitum until the soft object is built, layer by layer.
The end product is a large 3D printed object in the center made of stacked fabric. Peeling back the extra from the core reveals the soft, squishy, solid object hiding in the center.
Disney research says that it is designed to be used primarily with fabric but it can be used with harder materials also and even make electronic components. The machine is now in its gestation or prototype stage but it has all the stuff to become a boon for the 3D printing community by providing a tool to realize the creative ideas like toys and also fabricating cloths.
Disney has a rich history of innovations. Trying something new and out of the world is not foreign to Disney and the company has developed a knack to pursue new techs and when it comes to release the product in the market, it often holds back major investment capital in a prototype unless market forces indicate it’s going to be a winner.
Its latest 3D printer is no different than its products in the past and it is definitely biding its time as of now, even with the multitude of applications a soft-material 3D printer can put together.
Disney Research co-author of the study accompanying the 3D printer James McCann says that the team responsible for the printer’s development has a number of innovations up its sleeves.
James said, “We provide a brand-new kind of 3D ink-jet printer that can form exact, yet soft and also deformable 3D things from layers of off-the rack material.”