Fabric must be cut before it can be turned into something else, and [fiercekittenz] shows how a laser cutter can hit all the right bases to save a lot of time on the process. She demonstrates processing three layers of fabric at once on a CO2 laser cutter, cutting three bags’ worth of material in a scant 1 minute and 29 seconds.
The three layers are a PU (polyurethane) waterproof canvas, a woven liner, and a patterned cotton canvas. The laser does a fantastic job of slicing out perfectly formed pieces in no time, and its precision means minimal waste. The only gotcha is to ensure materials are safe to laser cut. For example, PU-based canvas is acceptable, but PVC-based materials are not. If you want to skip the materials discussion and watch the job, laying the fabric in the machine starts around [3:16] in the video.
[fiercekittenz] acknowledges that her large 100-watt CO2 laser cutter is great but points out that smaller or diode-based laser machines can perfectly cut fabric under the right circumstances. One may have to work in smaller batches, but it doesn’t take 100 watts to do the job. Her large machine, for example, is running at only a fraction of its full power to cut the three layers at once.
One interesting thing is that the heat of the laser somewhat seals the cut edge of the PU waterproof canvas. In the past, we’ve seen defocused lasers used to weld and seal non-woven plastics like those in face masks, a task usually performed by ultrasonic welding. The ability for a laser beam to act as both “scissors” and “glue” in these cases is pretty interesting. You can learn all about using a laser cutter instead of fabric scissors in the video embedded below.
Smartphones are amazing tools, but sometimes they can be an equally amazing time suck. In an effort to minimize how much precious time goes down the drain, [Lance Pan and Zeynep Kirmiziyesil] decided to make a functional and beautiful smartphone sleeve to keep you on task.
Most modern smartphones have some form of Do Not Disturb mode available, but having the phone visible can still be an invitation for distraction. By tucking the phone into an accessible but less visible sleeve, one can reduce the visual trigger to be on the phone while keeping it handy in the even of an emergency.
Once in the sleeve, the NFC tag sandwiched between the felt and wood veneer triggers an automation to put the phone into Do Not Disturb mode. This hack looks like something that you could easily pull off in an afternoon and looks great which is always a winning combination in our book.
While it isn’t for everyone, some of the best creators we know are experts at working with textiles. While the art is ancient, it isn’t easy and requires clever tools. [Lauren] collected a few 3D prints that can help you with knitting, crochet, and even a knitting loom.
Some of the designs are pretty basic like the yarn bowl, or pretty easy to figure out like the simple machine for re-spooling wool. We were frankly surprised that you can 3D print a crochet hook, although the post does mention that breaking them is a real problem.
We were really impressed though, with the sock knitting machine. There are actually a few of these out there, and you can see a similar one in the video below. Of course, like a RepRap printer, it needs “vitamins” in the form of metal rods, fasteners, and the like. There’s also a portable knitting loom which looked interesting.
We aren’t adept enough with fabric arts to know if these tools are serious contenders compared to commercial products, but we have to admit the sock knitting machine looks like it could be. We recently saw a sophisticated loom, although that might be a bit more than most people need. We have looked at open-source knitting machines, too. Of course, if you’d rather not create with textiles, you can always 3D print on them, instead.
Conventional textiles made of woven threads are highly useful materials. [Sara Alvarez] has had some success creating fabric-like materials through 3D printing, and though they’re not identical, they have some similar properties that make them unique and useful.
Fabrics are made by the weaving or knitting together many threads into a cohesive whole. [Sara]’s 3D-printed fabrics are different, since the printer can’t readily weave individual fibers together. Instead, a variety of methods are used to create similar materials.
The simplest is perhaps the chainmail method, where many small individual links join together to make a relatively rigid material. Alternatively, G-code or careful modelling can be used to create fabric-like patterns, which are printed directly in flexible material to become a fabric-like sheet. Finally, the infill method takes advantage of code inbuilt to a slicer to create a pattern that can be 3D-printed to create a fabric like material by removing the top and bottom layers of the print.
[Sara] demonstrates creating a simple “fabric” swatch using the slicer method, and demonstrates the qualities of the finished product. She also shows off various applications that can take advantage of this technique.
Want to make a t-shirt with a custom design printed on it? It’s possible to use a 3D printer, and Prusa Research have a well-documented blog post and video detailing two different ways to use 3D printing to create colorful t-shirt designs. One method uses a thin 3D print as an iron-on, the other prints directly onto the fabric. It turns out that a very thin PLA print makes a dandy iron-on that can survive a few washes before peeling, but printing flexible filament directly onto the fabric — while more complicated — yields a much more permanent result. Not sure how to turn a graphic into a 3D printable model in the first place? No problem, they cover that as well.
Making an iron-on is fairly straightforward, and the method can be adapted to just about any printer type. One simply secures a sheet of baking paper (better known as parchment paper in North America) to the print bed with some binder clips, then applies glue stick so that the print can adhere. A one- or two-layer thick 3D print will stick to the sheet, which can then be laid print-side down onto a t-shirt and transferred to the fabric by ironing it at maximum temperature. PLA seems to work best for iron-ons, as it preserves details better. The results look good, and the method is fairly simple.
Direct printing to the fabric with flexible filament can yield much better (and more permanent) results, but the process is more involved and requires 3D printing a raised bed adapter for a Prusa printer, and fiddling quite a few print settings. But the results speak for themselves: printed designs look sharp and won’t come loose even after multiple washings. So be certain to have a few old shirts around for practice, because mistakes can’t be undone.
That 3D printers can be used to embed designs directly onto fabric is something many have known for years, but it’s always nice to see a process not just demonstrated as a concept, but documented as a step-by-step workflow. A video demonstration of everything, from turning a graphic into a 3D model to printing on a t-shirt with both methods is all in the short video embedded below, so give it a watch.
Researchers in Singapore and at CalTech have developed a 3D printed fabric with an interesting property: it is generally flexible but can stiffen on demand. You can see a video about the new fabric, below.
The material consists of nylon octahedrons interlocked. The cloth is enclosed in a plastic envelope and vacuum-packed. Once in a vacuum, the sheet becomes much stiffer and can hold many times its own weight.
We’re impressed to see the continued flow of new and interesting ways to utilize 3D printing despite its years in the hacker limelight. At the 2020 Hackaday Remoticon [Billie Ruben] came to us from across the sea to demonstrate how to use 3D printing and fabric, or other flexible materials, to fabricate new and interesting creations. Check out her workshop below, and read on for more detail about what you’ll find.
The workshop is divided into two parts, a hands-on portion where participants execute a fabric print at home on their own printer, and a lecture while the printers whirr away describing ways this technique can be used to produce strong, flexible structures.
The technique described in the hands on portion can be clumsily summarized as “print a few layers, add the flexible material, then resume the printing process”. Of course the actual explanation and discussion of how to know when to insert the material, configure your slicer, and select material is significantly more complex! For the entire process make sure to follow along with [Billie]’s clear instructions in the video.
The lecture portion of the workshop was a whirlwind tour of the ways which embedded materials can be used to enhance your prints. The most glamourous examples might be printing scales, spikes, and other accoutrement for cosplay, but beyond that it has a variety of other uses both practical and fashionable. Embedded fabric can add composite strength to large structural elements, durable flexibility to a living hinge, or a substrate for new kinds of jewelry. [Billie] has deep experience in this realm and she brings it to bear in a comprehensive exposition of the possibilities. We’re looking forward to seeing a flurry of new composite prints!