I was recently at the FAB 12 Meeting in Shenzhen.  One of the things I saw there was a very simple and effective idea: 3D printing on fabric with RepRap to give a flexible and wearable backing.  So I decided to give it a go.  It turns out to be really easy:

double-sided sticky tape on your fabric
First put double-sided sticky tape on your fabric (I used cotton – see below).

Stick the fabric to your RepRap
Stick the fabric to your RepRap’s bed and turn on the bed heater.

Print on the fabric
Print on the fabric. There’s no need to make any Z origin changes.

Here I’m using PLA. The first layer soaks into the fabric and binds to it. We used cotton as it will easily withstand PLA at 200 oC.  Synthetics might melt a bit; this could be a problem, or it might just give better bonding.  (The PLA/cotton bond is pretty good, but I wouldn’t expect it to survive many trips through a washing machine.)  There could be problems printing large objects bonded to the fabric caused by warping and the double-sided tape coming unstuck.  We haven’t tried this.  But printing large numbers of small items such as a logo, or text, will work fine.

The finished print.
The finished print in PLA. Peel the double-sided tape off the bed.

With an added active component
With an added active component – a mobile-phone vibrator – and ready to sew into an armband

We  are experimenting with adding senses to the normal six or seven that people have, inspired by the feelSpace Project to allow people to sense the Earth’s magnetic field.  We intend to put about ten vibrators into an armband that goes round a person’s upper arm.  We will link them by Bluetooth via the person’s phone to ultrasonic range sensors in their clothing to give the person a feeling for their 360o surroundings out to a distance of five meters or so.

When that works we will allow an option to connect to a car’s surround sensors, so drivers can feel the surrounding traffic out to thirty or forty meters.  Then finally we will connect it to aircraft radar, so that pilots can feel out to several kilometres.



RepRap Printing on Fabric

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