Only a couple of days after Disney made the news with a 3D printed speaker project, the toys company strikes again. Another 3D printing project by Disney Research has to do with printing teddy bears and other felt-made toys. Disney Research has created a cross-over between a 3D printer and a sewing machine in order to print out stuffed animals.
The teddy bear pictured above is made by Scott Hudson, who works at Carnegie Mellon University’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute. Disney Research has supported this project and Hudson has said that it’s his aim to extend the set of 3D printing materials. While normal 3D printers mainly use plastics in order to print out objects, the machine by Hudson uses yarn to print the toy layer-by-layer.
The teddy bear was designed on a 3D computer program, after which the machine was able to print out the entire stuffed animal. The work looks like the result of a knitting, but it surely is a 3D printed object – taking into account that Hudson did use a wider approach to the concept of 3D printing. Using this technique, it’s also possible to 3D print different stuffed objects, such as hats, scarfs and even soft robots.
He also tried to create moving arms for teddy bears, using plastics plastics which he embedded with nylon. He used a wire to make the arm move in a natural way. The result is still a prototype version of what this can become one day, but he managed to 3D print this already. Hudson has released a scientific paper about this subject, in which he states that this is “only a beginning” and that he will need more time to further develop his work. More precisely, he needs to find a better adhesive to make his object stick a little better. However, the challenge lies in doing this, while remaining the soft character of the toys. He also needs to find a way to turn this technique into a more accurate mechanism.
And this is what he has said about it himself in the final words of his paper: “These objects exhibit reasonable strength for forces applied laterally to layers. However, they are less robust to forces perpendicular to layers, tending to pull the layers apart. To improve robustness in that direction in future work we may consider injecting very small amounts of a flexible adhesive in conjunction with the felting process in order to more permanently bind felted fibres between layers.”
Image credits: Disney Research/ Scott Hudson.