May 23, 2016 | By Tess

3D printed jewelry has been a quickly growing area within the 3D printing industry, as makers have made DIY 3D printed jewelry and designers have used the technology to create truly one of a kind pieces for sale. Traditionally, 3D printing jewelry has implied designing a piece using 3D modeling software, and having it printed layer by layer using FDM, SLA, or other 3D printing techniques. Now, however, with a new technology being developed by Autodesk Research in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University, you can actually 3D print jewelry directly onto your skin.

The new 3D printing technology, Exoskin, which according to the researchers is still in its development stage, can be used to print 3D designs directly onto your skin, meaning the closest custom fit possible. Not only a revolutionary technique for 3D printing jewelry, however, Exoskin could have potential applications for the creation of fitness trackers, smart eyewear, and even medical devices such as braces or casts.

The technology is essentially a two step process, which involves first drawing the desired design onto your body, or having someone do it for you. Of course, you won’t be drawing on yourself with a marker or pen, but will use Tactum, a system that effectively captures your drawing movements with a Microsoft Kinect and a depth camera, and projects the design onto your skin, creating a digital toolpath for the next step.

The Tactum system is also capable of recognizing what the research team calls “loose input” and can transform it into precise geometries. For instance, if you were trying to trace a perfect circle, or equilateral triangle your attempt could be made exact through the Tactum system. With your desired design projected onto your skin, you can then use the ExoSkin device to trace over it, as it extrudes a skin-safe clay material that dries in only minutes.

The research team explains their inspiration for the project in their paper abstract: “There is a long tradition for crafting wearable objects directly on the body, such as garments, casts, and orthotics. However, these high-skill, analog practices have yet to be augmented by digital fabrication techniques… Based on our explorations, we present ExoSkin, a hybrid fabrication system for designing and printing digital artifacts directly on the body. ExoSkin utilizes a custom built fabrication machine designed specifically for on-body printing.”

As mentioned, the hybrid technology is still in its research stages, as the researchers are planning to further develop their Exoskin technology. As of now, the extruding system is a handheld one, which relies on the efficacy of the person controlling it, in the future the research team is hoping to develop a more automated, multi-axis system. They are also hoping to introduce many more skin-safe materials, even including edibles!

You can view the whole study, entitled Exoskin: On-Body Fabrication here.

 

 

Posted in 3D Software

 

 

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