We have seen the wonders of 3D printers in a variety of fields, starting from healthcare to education, electronics to automobiles, and many more. Most of these innovations were done with plastics or metals as the medium. Now, a new handy technology has come up with the help of 3D printing, to solve one of our daily needs.

Disney Research and Scott Hudson of Carnegie Mellon’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute, have collaborated to come up with a cool way of turning and blending wool yarns into fabric objects of interests with the principles of 3D printing. They have developed a device called felting printer, which can be best described as a cross between a 3D printer and a sewing machine.

The operation of this device is similar to the FDM technology used in 3D printing. In a FDM printer, melted plastic is extruded in a thin line into a layer and subsequent layers are added to create the desired shape. In the felting printer, however, the printer head feeds out yarn instead of lines of melted plastic. The device has a barbed felting needle, which is attached to the printer head to pierce the yarn repeatedly. This will drag down individual fibers into the yarn in the layers below, entangling the fibers and bonding the layers together.

Like other FDM 3D printers, Hudson’s machine can create fabric objects by working directly from computerized designs. This will really help to customize objects easily and also to create rapid prototypes. The applications for this printer are many. They could include apparel, accessories such as scarves and hats and even Teddy bears. This is surely a cool innovation!