Oct 30, 2015 | By Kira

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have proven that it is possible to 3D print touchably soft and silky hair, fibers, and bristles using a technique they are referring to as “furbrication.” The concept, which requires no special hardware or equipment other than an inexpensive FDM 3D printer, has been used to 3D print a troll with brushable hair, a model horses with braidable tails, and even stiffer bristles for a toothbrush. The 3D printed hair was displayed publicly for the first time today at the Engadget Live event in Brooklyn, New York.

The majority of 3D printed objects are made from plastic or metal materials and are generally quite rigid and tough. The concept for 3D printing hair, however, approaches 3D printing from a different angle. In fact, it was inspired by the ultra-thin strands of glue that occur when you pull on a hot-glue gun. Since 3D printers extrude melted plastic in a similar way, researchers at the Cargenie Mellon Human-Computer Interaction Institute realized they could mimic that action to achieve very fine strands of 3D printed plastic. This simply requires entering a set of parameters into the 3D printer that instruct it to create a tiny blob of molten plastic and then pull the print head and bed sideways in a quick movement.

"You just squirt a little bit of material and pull away," said Gierad Laput, one of the PhD students who developed the technique. "It's a very simple idea, really." The strands can also be modified by adjusting the parameters: randomized root positions create natural-looking hair such as on the horse’s tail, while uniform root positions were used to produce stiffer toothbrush-like bristles.

The method is described in detail in a paper titled “3D Printed Hair: Fused Deposition Modeling of Soft Strands, Fibers and Bristles” by Gierad Laput, Xiang ‘Anthony’ Chen, and Professor Chris Harrison. “We introduce a technique for furbricating 3D printed hair, fibers and bristles, by exploiting the stringing phenomena inherent in fused deposition modeling 3D printers,” they wrote. “We show several examples of output, demonstrating the feasibility of our approach on a low cost printer. Overall, this technique extends the capabilities of 3D printing in a new and interesting way, without requiring any new hardware.”

Along with working on standard FDM 3D printers—the one used by the Carnegie Mellon researchers cost only $300, the ‘Furbication’ technique uses common PLA 3D printing filaments. However, the researchers plan to experiment with more sophisticated materials, such as ABS, which might make it possible to create hair with magnetic or other properties. Though the concept could theoretically be used to 3D print a human-size wig that could be trimmed, braided, brushed or even curled, the process is still very slow. It takes roughly 20 to 25 minutes to generate hair for a 10 square millimeter space.

In addition to being displayed today at the Engadget Live event, Laput and his colleagues will present the method at the User Interface Software and Technology Symposium (UIST), which takes place November 11th in Charlotte, N.C.

3D printing technology has come a long way in developing flexible filaments and soft robotics, including Disney Research’s attempts at building a huggable 3D printed robot. The fact that Furbrication’ technique requires no additional equipment or software means that it can easily be applied by many at-home hobbyists. We can’t wait to see what makers will use it for; from a cuddly 3D printed Chewbacca to an army trolls, to realistic models of their beloved pets, the technique opens up a whole new range of fun and creative possibilities in desktop 3D printing.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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:DH wrote at 10/30/2015 5:08:56 PM:

Reminds me of this technique from last year: http://www.3ders.org/articles/20141223-artist-uses-complicated-3d-printing-technique-to-create-entire-broom-with-a-3d-printer.html



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