For thousands of years, the manufacturing of 3D forms out of textiles has remained largely the same — fiber becomes a fabric which is then constructed into a 3D object. Knitting has made a considerable advance in changing this paradigm as the fabric and form can be generated simultaneously. Inverse design pipelines for machine knitting have further shifted the nature of textile construction towards the computational production of fully shaped textiles. Despite these advances, the ability to generate complex 3D forms with textiles outside of industrial manufacturing settings remains elusive. The high-tech approach, machine knitting, currently use expensive machines with a significant learning curve for programming. The low-tech approach, classic sewing, requires skilled and practiced hands to carry out pain-staking processes such as draping, tracing patterns onto fabric, adding seam allowances, and sewing.
As such, there is a need for a fast and accessible approach to manufacture textiles into 3D forms.
- A fast and accessible approach to 3D print textiles that are much thinner and more flexible than previous methods and can also be structured in complex three-dimensional forms.
- A study of the relevant printing parameters to control the mechanical, sensing, and aesthetic properties of the textile.
- The development of workflows to enable control of warp direction, surface patterning, multi-material printing, and ultra-long textiles.
- Demonstration of applications including sensing textiles, actuators, garment design/augmentation.
- A variety of post-processing techniques that can be used on such textiles, such as heat-bonding, sewing, and de-pleating.
Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is the most common and inexpensive approach for 3D printing. In this technique, a material, most often a thermoplastic filament, is melted and deposited by a heated, moving printer extruder head to build up an object layer by layer. In order to yield successful prints, the speed of the nozzle head, and the amount of material extruded must be carefully coordinated to yield uniform layers. The most common parameter used to fine-tune the amount of material extruded is the extrusion multiplier (EM).
In this work, we demonstrate that under-extrusion can be leveraged to quickly print thin, flexible, textiles. Specifically, as the extrusion multiplier decreases, there exists an ideal regime where globs form with fine strands connecting them as diagramed below.