A new 3D printer has been designed by a researcher at Carnegie Mellon that can create a real teddy bear in few hours. The machine creates the real soft teddy with soft yarn and a needle to “felt” the object together by enmeshing the fibers together.
Some limitations as of now
According to Scott E. Hudson of CMU’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute, the printer can make any shape of a teddy with the fibrous metal. He developed the felting printer with backing from Disney Research Pittsburgh.
“I really see this material being used for things that are held close. We’re really extending the set of materials available for 3D printing and opening up new possibilities for what can be manufactured,” says Hudson.
However, the current printer-built soft toys can be pulled apart very easily and quickly, a problem which could be sorted out by using flexible adhesive in the future. Also, the yarn used is thick, which suggests that the process is not that fine and efficient, when compared to the finer layers of a regular 3D printer. The yarn can be used for the teddy bear, but certainly not for the hats and other fine quality products.
3D printing is a growing segment
“A number of researchers are looking at mixed materials in 3D printing,” he added. “That’s one of the most interesting challenges now.”
Apart from making teddy bears, the printer could be used to make clothes, soft robots, or squeezable Jabba the Hutt toys. Hudson is hopeful to built mixed media printers that could mix the hard and soft material. Hudson indicated that the printer could be used for accessories such as scarves and hats. The printer can be used to make objects by taking design directly from the computers.
The machine operates using the Fused Deposition Modeling method, or FDM, which is a commonly used process used in low-cost 3D printers.