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Can You 3D Print Cotton?

Probably you can’t 3D print cotton, but a new project hopes to find a way to do so. 

Innocentive is a crowd-sourced research service that posts difficult problems for any researcher or experimenter to solve. The newly posted problem, “3D Printing with Cotton Fiber”, hopes to do just that. The challenge says: 

The Seeker desires proposals for 3D printing technology that use cotton fibers, or material derived from cotton fibers, as the printing material or substrate.  The Seeker is interested in ways that cotton can be used with currently existing 3D printing technology, or a novel 3D printing technology that uses cotton.  A futuristic application would be for the printing of apparel or other products – ie. where an article of cotton clothing can be printed, constructed, or formed directly on a 3D printer.    

For solving this problem, the “Seeker” will award the successful entry with up to USD$5,000 in prize money for the winner, with another USD$2,000 to be split among other worthy participants. 

We don’t know who the seeker is, but it could be anybody or any company. In fact, companies often post such projects on services like Innocentive because they can frequently obtain a solution faster and at a much lower cost than using their own internal labs. Sometimes internal researchers are stumped and resort to crowd solutions. 

Cotton fiber could be a very interesting capability. If such a capability is developed, one can imagine all manner of custom clothing solutions. Gloves that fit precisely – even if you are missing a finger, for example. We believe this would be another genre-opening technology to be mastered by artists and entrepreneurs around the world. 

Via Innocentive 

Image Credit: Wikimedia

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