3D Printing & Imaging Wearables
Hybrid RepRap/Sewing Machine “Teddy Bear Printer” Takes Yarn as Feedstock

Scott E. Hudson is a Professor in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon, and the founder of their “HCI” doctoral program. The talk he gave yesterday at the Association for Computing Machinery’s 32nd annual Special Interest Group on Computer Human Interaction (ACM SIGCHI 2014) is making waves all over the web today. The paper and video (embedded above) released to accompany that talk present a new kind of “soft” 3D printing technology that radically expands the possibilities of low-cost additive prototyping and manufacturing equipment.

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Hudson’s “Teddy Bear Printer” uses a process that is, in his words, “tightly analogous” to the familiar fused-filament fabrication technology of RepRap, MakerBot, Ultimaker, and other common desktop 3D printers — so much so that the established software toolchains for these printers can be used almost without modification for Hudson’s machine. His proof-of-concept system consists of an off-the-shelf RAMPS-controlled desktop 3D printer running Repetier-Host for client functions, Slic3r (plus “custom translation” post-processing software) for CAM functions, and OpenSCAD for modeling (CAD) functions. The major difference is a special “needle felting print head” attached to the Cartesian robot.

Scott Hudson, “Printing Teddy Bears: A Technique for 3D Printing of Soft Interactive Objects”, to appear in Proceedings of the CHI’14 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, April 2014. (PDF)

0 thoughts on “Hybrid RepRap/Sewing Machine “Teddy Bear Printer” Takes Yarn as Feedstock

    1. Well, this is an academic researcher, not a corporate one, and by the standards of that community, publishing the paper *is* sharing the design. Dr. Hudson may or may not publish the physibles for his felting print head, but as long as he doesn’t try to spin off a closed-source company or patent the tech I have no problem with him using RepRap stuff.

    1. I think it is incredibly exciting for the 3d printing community. I mean, it isn’t groundbreaking or anything, but seeing new methods of using the tech is always fantastic.

  1. I´m looking forward to see what the Becky Stern and the Guys at Adafruit will do with this!!!!! E-TEXTILES ROCK!

    1. Thanks Gus! But this isn’t really e-textiles (textiles with electronics inside), it’s electronics that make textiles. =D You could certainly use it to add some conductive yarn to your prints for capacitive touch sensors, though! I loves me some needlefelting.

  2. SMR, I’m ashamed you used the word “sewing” in your post title– you should know better! It is most certainly FELTING, the angriest of the fibercrafts.

    1. I think the body of the post makes that clear enough. But for headline purposes, most people know what a sewing machine is. Not so much a “felting machine.” Sounds kinda dirty, actually. Or maybe that’s just me. :)

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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