When Defects Are Your Friend
Over at Hackaday is some news about an interesting use of 3D printers, creating objects which behave more like cloth than a solid object. The technique makes use of the blob-stretch that is usually the bane of 3D printing, when you end up with a glob of material with a thin string connecting to another glob and so on, as opposed to a solid smooth print.
This DefeXtiles process purposefully forces the printer to make these flaws, which results in a flexible end product which you can carefully fold or bend. As the connecting string of material is not quite as strong as normal cloth, let alone a solidly printed object some care should be taken not to break all the stretched material, but as there are quite a few threads it won’t immediately fall apart.
The video demonstrations feature a printed dress, a 70m long roll of fabric and a malleable spiral, all with a thickness less than 0.4mm. These came out of a 3D printer with no physical modifications, just code changes to convince the printer to do what normally you would not want it to. There is, as of yet, no STL or G-code files available to try this out for yourself, but programming it shouldn’t be too hard for anyone familiar with their printer.
Normally, a 3D printer that under extrudes is a bad thing. However, MIT has figured out a way to deliberately mix full extrusions with under extruded layers to print structures that behave more like cloth than normal 3D printed items.