Disney Research is backing the development of a 3-D printer that makes soft’n’snuggly items, such as teddy bears, out of wool and wool blend yarn.
Developed by Scott Hudson of Carnegie Mellon University, the printer “extends 3-D-printing from typically hard and precise forms into a new set of forms that embody a different aesthetic of soft and imprecise objects,” a summary for Hudson’s research paper reads. Translation: It makes cuddly things that babies like!
Basically, Hudson’s printer operates like any other 3-D printer, except it uses yarn instead of plastic spools to create the layers of the printed object. CNET describes it as “what would happen if you were to cross-breed a 3D printer with a sewing machine,” which, as you can tell from the demonstration below, seems pretty apt:
While this might seem like a pretty great option for parents who’d prefer to print their own stuffed animals from the privacy of their home rather than shell out $50 for a stuffed Olaf at the Disney Store, the technology isn’t quite ready for the mass market yet. The printed objects tend to pull apart a bit too easily, and as you can tell, the teddy bears that come out of the machine are kinda small and janky.
But in the future, Hudson hopes his printer could be used to create not only teddy bears but other traditionally soft items that are “held close,” such as scarves, hats, and “soft robots” that are designed to touch and be near people. So look forward to seeing a bunch of sentient, googly eyed, woolen cuddle monsters roaming the aisles of a Disney store near you.
H/T CNET | Screengrab via Disney Research/YouTube