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New Robotic Needling Process Enables Additive Manufacturing with Wool

 3D printed wool? [Source: SolidSmack] 3D printed wool? [Source: SolidSmack]

As mankind’s ever-growing desire to make his own stuff increases, so does the amount of materials he can use to 3D print with.

 Robotic needle felting process [Source: SolidSmack] Robotic needle felting process [Source: SolidSmack]

Wood, metal, carbon fiber, and now… 3D printed wool?

 Robotic needle felting process [Source: SolidSmack] Robotic needle felting process [Source: SolidSmack]

Researchers at the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning developed a new felting process—dubbed Hard + Soft—that allows for different kinds of wool and polyester to be interwoven together in three dimensions:

Creating different tools and workflows, the team used their new robotic needle felting technique to make a number of prototype panels and a single footstool.

 Robotic needle felting process [Source: SolidSmack] Robotic needle felting process [Source: SolidSmack]

These showcase a number of different felting techniques such as shingling, shiplap (overlapping layers of felt over each other), and quilting.

 Robotic needle felting process [Source: SolidSmack] Robotic needle felting process [Source: SolidSmack]

According to the team, they came up with the idea due to the relatively sparse use of additive manufacturing in the textile industry. While 3D knitting and weaving exist, the materials used in the processes are limited due to their fiber density and thickness.

Since the innate properties of felt allow it to be combined with different materials, this makes it a more flexible material to work with. This new process felts the material in three dimensions, allowing for more properties (such as stiffness and density) to be added and more shapes to be created.

Read the rest at SolidSmack

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