3D Printing

3D-printing "error" used to produce high-tech textiles

3D-printing "error" used to pr...
DefeXtiles can be 3D-printed out of various polymers, depending on the desired characteristics
DefeXtiles can be 3D-printed out of various polymers, depending on the desired characteristics
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DefeXtiles can be 3D-printed out of various polymers, depending on the desired characteristics
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DefeXtiles can be 3D-printed out of various polymers, depending on the desired characteristics

If a 3D printer leaves gaps in the plastic that it deposits, it's usually thought of as an unwanted flaw. Now, however, the process has been harnessed to quickly and cheaply produce pliable polymer textiles.

Ordinarily, commonly used fused deposition modelling (FDM)-type printers create items by extruding successive layers of molten plastic. Once the layers of deposited plastic have cooled and fused together, they form a hardened solid object.

Sometimes, though – due to a flaw in the printer or the programming – not enough plastic is extruded. This is known as under-extrusion, and it results in the finished product being full of small gaps.

MIT Media Lab grad student Jack Forman decided to put that error to use, creating a program that causes off-the-shelf, inexpensive FDM printers to under-extrude in a precise and controlled "glob-stretch" pattern – the latter is made up of tiny polymer plastic pillars linked together by thin polymer strands.

The resulting "DefeXtiles" have a tulle-like quality, in that they take the form of a fine, flexible netting.

Among other things, Forman and colleagues have so far used the technology to create items such as full-sized skirts, translucent lace sheets, a roll of fabric long enough to stretch across a baseball diamond, and an electronically conductive lampshade with pleats that can be pinched together to turn on the lamp.

Down the road, other applications could include the creation of surgical mesh with tuneable mechanical properties, along with prototyping and customization in the fashion industry.

There's more information in the following video.

Source: MIT

DefeXtiles

3 comments
Techrex
?? There is an OLD idea, in the blimp industry, that we could make large transportation blimps, that do not have to use the expensive Helium gas to make them float in the air, (No Hydrogen! Hindinberg!) or burn a lot of fuel to superheat air to provide this buoyancy, by somehow making a very large vacuum containment, within the blimp. Trouble is, it's pretty much impossible to find a cheap material, that is both strong enough, yet light-weight enough, for that blimp-making application. But, what if we could use this new 3D fabric making system, to make a number of concentrically-contained blimp balloons, inside of one another like Chinese boxes or Russian dolls, each made out of a varying degree of material and tensile strengths, vary the amount of material used for the different layers, to solve the weight snafu, so that by making a semi-vacuum in the outermost layering, and than a stronger vacuum in the next layering, until you got a near-perfect vacuum in the center. The 3D process could enable us to make an interconnecting, spider-webbing truss mesh structures, around all of them to maintain the blimp shape, even under rough flight conditions. Perhaps that vacuum blimp design could actually enable us to build giant air ships, without the need for hot air or Helium to keep them afloat!
Gregg Eshelman
They should try printing the roll out the same width as drywall joint tape then testing to see how it works for mudding joints in drywall. AKA Gypsum board or Sheetrock.
RobC
What a fantastic way to extend the possibilities of a standard 3D printer. Great imagination!