Scott Hudson is a professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute. He developed the felting printer with backing from Disney Research Pittsburgh. The printer works similarly to a regular 3D printer, except it uses yarn instead of plastic spools to create the layers. A felting needle pushes through the yarn, attaching it together. It’s a lot like what would happen if you were to cross-breed a 3D printer with a sewing machine. What a breakthrough in 3D Printing Technology
“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.
The finished objects can be pulled apart a little too easily. Use of a flexible adhesive may improve this issue in the future. For a teddy bear, this is charming. Beyond teddy bears, the felting printer could eventually be used to create clothing, soft robots, or squeezable Jabba the Hutt toys. Hudson is looking ahead to applying this innovation for the development of mixed-media printers, ones that could combine hard and soft materials. For now, a teddy bear is a good start.