Disney is working on a 3D printer that will use fabric instead of hard plastic. While a paper published by Disney only reveals the idea in concept, the process that it would go through to achieve this would be relatively simple. Interestingly, this would be one of the most-advanced concepts, and would completely revolutionize the way things like stuffed toys are made. 3D printing has come a long way over the course of the last several years. However, previous models utilized plastic instead of other materials like fabric.

The paper explains how the printer works, but the basic science behind it is that the printer prints out 2D layers, and ultimately form the stuffed animal. The potential good that a product like this would do is pretty impressive. It’ll allow for things to be produced, like stuffed animals and other toys, to be produced more quickly and in a cheaper way. Both are things that would be incredibly beneficial to the business world.

The paper specifically points out the following steps to actually creating these 3D creations:

  • Turn on vacuum to hold fabric to cutting table
  • Cut 2D layer shape(s) and bounding box in fabric
  • Raise bonding platform to touch cut fabric
  • Release cut fabric by turning vacuum off
  • Lower bonding platform and advance fabric
  • Heat bond new layer to print

Overall this is interesting, mainly due to the fact that some have pointed out that the practical applications for this are limited. However, expanding the number of raw materials that can be used in the 3D printing process is incredibly beneficial. No longer are we talking about just using hard plastics. Instead, we’re talking about using fabric, a softer material – and who knows what that could lead to in the future.

The real opportunity here is expanding on something that is quickly becoming mainstream. That’s not to say that this is going to make a 3D printer common in every house, but it will do a lot to actually innovate the world around us and really that’s what this is all about. Disney is innovating in an arena that typically only big tech companies are innovating.