Textile printing has been a niche within additive manufacturing for quite some time. Since then, flexible materials like TPU have opened up a variety of new possibilities for designers. Similarly a new study by researchers from Carnegie Melon and Rochester outlines the various new techniques for better integration of textiles and 3D printing. They illustrated the properties of these fabric/printing mixes through a series of simple devices.
The study in question mapped out the various properties needed by 3D printed textile fabrics and tinkered with them. One of the major hurdles was creating a framework where plastics could properly behave alongside traditional fabrics. By achieving this, the researchers were able to create various functional designs as shown in the video below:
This sort of research also allows scientists to create simple functional machines. While a lot of praise is heaped on complex electronics made from 3D printing, the intricacy and tiny resolutions allow for flexible devices like foldable openings on containers (as shown above). These novel approaches can go a long way in cementing the importance of 3D printing.
Various Advancements in Textile and Cloth Manufacturing
The mixture of textiles and 3D printing provides many researchers with an opportunity for flexible and durable objects. Since 3D printing alone is, at this stage, limited in certain aspects, it makes sense to incorporate fabrics. In this case, Researchers used NinjaTek SemiFlex filament and 2 layers of polyester mesh fabric.
In the future researchers may look to not just attaching textiles but printing their own. While this is a massive leap forward, there are many obstacles stopping the move to fully 3D printed textiles. Previously, we’ve covered multiple stories about 3D knitting. The problem with a lot of these machines is that they can be expensive, heavy and spacious. Future solutions may decrease these inhibiting factors but as to when, only time will time.
Developments in textiles and fabrics have also been popping up. Aside from the additive manufacturing side of the equation we also have modelling techniques. Effectively mapping out the behaviour of textiles is far harder than it seems. Thus, properly recreating the movement, points of motion and flexibility has taken quite some time. A software by Cornell university, i.e. the one shown below, illustrates realistic motion.
These modelling software can be incorporated into helping create very precise arrangements of fabric. As a result, researchers can map out clothing or textiles and their functions with startling accuracy. It could not only help in making functional clothing but also parachutes and other products where the behaviour of cloth matters.
There is a ton of work being put into this field. We expect to see massive shifts in the industry that can help create new and more intricate textile structures. While the industry still has a long way to go, the future looks promising for textiles.