Experimenting with 3D Printed Fabric

cool this video is brought to you by Squarespace the easiest way to make a beautiful professional website visit Squarespace calm / make anything for 10% off your first purchase what's up guys it's Devin here with make anything and today's video is a little different from what I tend to do because this project is less about one specific end goal and it's more about experimentation and sharing my process with you guys so what I have here in front of me is this table full of 3d printed fabrics or attempts to create a 3d printed fabric and this is something that's fascinated me since I got my very first 3d printer because everything you print on the 3d printer is pretty solid and rigid typically sure there's flexible filaments but even those don't flow and behave quite like a fabric or a cloth does and that's something that I've been trying to recreate now by no means am I the first person to try my hand at creating 3d printed fabrics there's plenty of users online who have shared their designs for years fashion designers have created fully wearable clothing that's all 3d printed even NASA has come up with a few really cool models so that's nothing that I'm trying to claim to do but I think my own process and approach is something that would be fun for you guys to see and I'm thinking I came up with some things in different ways so it's fun to share I feel like I'm just scratching the surface here but I decided to share what I have right now just so it doesn't become overwhelming and so hopefully you guys can come up with some ideas based on what I've done and maybe create your own 3d printer fabrics or give me some ideas of what I can do moving forward so let me just go ahead and share all of this starting with my very first experiment that I did way back in 2014 what we have here is a kind of Dragon Skin chainmail that I was trying to create all of this is printed in one piece and I was really trying to avoid support material and it didn't work out but as you can see there's a lot of space between the scales and it kind of got tangled up a little bit too easily so while the idea is pretty cool I didn't get back into trying 3d printed fabrics until just recently this fabric consists of these loops printed at 45-degree angles that way they can all be printed to interlock each other in a single print and in some ways it was pretty successful it is super flowy and flexible it bends quite nicely however I didn't have much luck printing this at a smaller scale the prints tended to fail and they kind of just lost their flexibility also in general this fabric didn't feel really nice it was kind of rough on the skin and for that reason I decided to move on and try some different techniques here's one that was quite different rather than having interlocking pieces this is just one sheet but it has these really thin connections between each triangle that allow it to kind of flex while this was a lot easier to print it presented a few problems for one thing you can only bend it so many times before it just broke in half also because this is a single piece it behaves more like paper than a fabric in that you can't really do compound curves you wouldn't be able to bend this over the top of a balloon without it having some wrinkles or bends still it does have some interesting properties you can bend it in certain ways that might be useful for something that you print flat and Bend into its final shape for example I'm not sure but I do think there's some potential behind this idea here's another attempt where I was trying to make the most thin dense mesh that I could in this case I ended up printing it a little bit too small and all the different loops kind of ended up merging together but as you can see this is another idea inspired by chainmail where it's these loops that all lock together here it is printed 30% larger and it was a lot more successful at this size but it still wasn't completely flexible but it does create this really beautiful shimmer that's quite mesmerizing I just kept scaling this model up a little bit at a time until I was able to get it to print really successfully and here it is printed up pretty much double the original scale on the tebow tornado at this scale it was finally behaving the way I wanted to it's super flowy it feels kind of soft for being a rough plastic and you can even curl it into a ball and then open it up again so it's a lot like a fabric you can see how the loops on the edge tended to spin around and kind of get a little messy so to fix that I just printed a rigid border around the whole model with that change it makes this really cool tile of sorts that's a great demonstration of this 3d printed fabric check out how you can see all my individual fingers and just how well this flows I also just really like the idea of being able to print something that has both rigid and fabric parts in a single print and a single material for example with this thing I could print some kind of fixture at the top to hang this and build in a light to make some kind of interesting hanging lamp or anything like that you can also print any kind of shape so I made this circular version that's also really cool and I noticed how it droops down in the middle so I created some additional parts that you can use to turn this into an interesting unique Bowl it's nice for holding your keys and wallet or any kind of small items it's just pretty different I like it also it makes music I would definitely call that test a success but these next ones are by far my favorite this is a triangular mesh that I designed where each triangle has these loops that connect to all the adjacent triangles to create a flexible material this one was my first test where I printed it a little bit too small so once again it lost that flexibility but it does have this cool shimmer to it and when I printed that larger it works really well I printed this in a few colors and I also tried some variations like this version that has holes in some of the triangles but personally I like the one that's all solid I wanted to be able to make really large pieces of fabric so I created this version of model where the edge loops are open so that you can kind of hook them together and then stitch them together after the fact using a 3d pen these pieces here are about as small as I was able to successfully print this fabric but at this scale it became very fragile especially the open loops at the edges here so I decided to print it a little bit larger and that made a big difference you can see how strong it is now once I found that perfect size I printed out a whole bunch of these tiles and started fusing them together here you can see me using my 3d pen to close those loops and I also have this little makeshift aluminum paddle that I made to keep the parts from fusing together I wasn't sure if I would be able to do it at this tiny scale but it actually worked out really well and the loops that I made with the 3d pen hold just as strong as the ones that were 3d printed here's my cloth after stitching together nine of these panels and at this point it's really satisfying it flows super nicely and it's got that same beautiful shimmer that it had earlier with that working so well I designed some extra parts specifically for the edges of the fabric that way you can finish it off have straight edges all around and not have any open loops that don't need to be there just like all the other tiles you'll hook them into place and fuse them together with the 3d pen and here you can see the final product I'm absolutely thrilled with how this fabric came out it prints well it looks great it feels amazing it's just really satisfying to play with and I like the fact that it has this one really smooth side and then on the other side you can see all the joints and how it actually works I wasn't sure I would be able to top this but then I went ahead and printed these really cool patterns believe it or not this was made in a single print without using any 3d pen or anything it was made using the multi material upgrade for the Prusa i3 Marc – printer and this printer only has one nozzle but it uses a purge block to blend between the different colors so that it can get really clean for color prints up top there are four extruders one for each spool of filament and those are all fed into the single hot end all it takes is a special g code to make sure that only one color is fed in at a time there actually was a power outage so this print didn't complete 100% but it got far enough that the loops were all closed and I was still able to get a really cool single piece of fabric I really love how this came out especially with these colors I'm using matter hackers Pro PLA in Burgundy gold black and white I also printed out this second version using their blonde yellow PLA and I think that gives it a really beautiful autumn theme by the way if you have a 3d printer all these files are gonna be free to download and print at my mini factory com so make sure to check out the link in the description because you're gonna want to print these the last thing I wanted to try out was printing this same fabric but a lot larger so I made this second version that's nearly the same but it's almost twice as large just like the smaller version I printed out several tiles like this that way I could fit it all on my printer and then I stitched them all together to make a really big quilt okay prepare to be extremely satisfied yeah this thing is just super fun to play with I have not been able to take my hands off of it since I first printed them out I also printed out those edge models again so this is really just a giant version of the other model of course closing these larger loops with the 3d pen is gonna take a bit more time and a bit more material but it worked out just as well in this case I just used the blade from my alpha cutter to separate the two parts just because it was the perfect size here it is all finished up and not surprisingly it's pretty darn awesome it's interesting that in one direction it folds pretty well but if you fold it the other way it kind of holds its shape in an arc and if you stack it just right it'll stand up on its own creating these really cool abstract sculptures I also noticed that this fabric scatters light in a really cool way when the Sun hit it through the window and I had all these little triangles dancing around my room it also cast a really cool shadow so this stuff has all kinds of interesting properties that are gonna be really fun to play around with and of course I could pretty much do this forever [Applause] all right guys so that's pretty much what I've come up with so far with this 3d printed fabric idea and I think some of the concepts were really successful like this one and I'm thinking this would be really cool to make a 3d printed cap but as you saw there's also maybe some non fashion uses for this 3d printed fabric like this Bowl or who knows what else I'm hoping you guys can come up with some cool ideas and share them with me through the new make anything creative network that I've created over at my website make anything design make sure to check that out share your ideas and inspiration regarding this project or anything that you're working on it's been really fun I want to thank the people who have shared their work so far it's nice to see what everyone else is up to and of course I've got to thank my sponsor Squarespace for giving me the power to make this really cool make anything website without spending way too much time on it they have all these pre-made templates that let you make still pretty customized websites so it's quick it's easy it looks really professional and it doesn't cost an arm and a leg if you're thinking of making a website a blog portfolio online store check out slash make anything and you can get 10% off your first purchase on top of that free 14-day trial all right like I said we'll keep working on this 3d printed fabric together but that's it for today so until next time I'm Devon this is make anything don't forget to stay inspired [Applause] yes you


  1. Fate

    Have you considered maybe making two copies of one pattern then using your 3d pen to fuse the joint sides together so that it is smooth on both sides? That would be something cool to see. I dont have a 3D printer yet, or I would try to make one myself

  2. Brandon Rivers

    Just imagine if each one of those plastic tiles was a tiny LCD screen and you had tiny cameras in between them in the holes displaying images of the opposite side of someone when "wearing it". Invisibility cloak confirmed! Could put 1-way mirror filters on the camera lens

  3. Matt West

    Revisit the chain mail concept but with the dual extruder and use an easily dissolved filament to get around the tolerance constraints

  4. Sam Chaney

    This is awesome. I think one area where these types of 3D-printed fabrics could really shine is in bags and backpacks. They don't sit against your body so they don't have to be comfortable, and they don't have to be incredibly flexible.

  5. bigsteve

    This was a really cool mate, what is the weight like? for example, I am contemplating making this for a weighted blanket version, would it be possible to add some weight to it so it feels heavier for sensory? Would appreciate it if you could get back to me 🙂 thanks

  6. Randell Duggins

    How are you getting this to print with so much mobility without support material?

    This is an awesome exploration! Thanks for sharing your process. If you made it and you like it then that is all that matters. I'm sure you don't, but disregard snide comments. Little can be said about the minds of people who lack creativity driven by curiosity. Yet, the internet is nondiscriminatory in allowing them to have a voice.

    Fabric has a very broad meaning literally and metaphorically. It can refer to negative space (void) or interstitial space as a binding element without physical connection, as well as cloth used for clothing. Nevertheless, you are well on your way to exploring the full meaning of the word.

    I've been thinking about exploring 3D printed "fabric." I've done a lot of architectural quilting, some of which has been published and displayed in museums. Unfortunately, it takes an exorbitant amount of time, which takes away from other things I am curious about. It would be great to find a way to design fabrics digitally that can be quickly edited and printed.

  7. Wen Ricky

    i think what u can do is find a way to print smaller strands of plastic and make them act as thread, but this would require you to have better hardware

  8. Ame thyst

    well, cool but you can't really use it for anything other than putting it under your grandma's fruit bowl. Garments have to be made from thread into fine yarn to be able to be wearable and comfortable

  9. Sexy Unykorn

    I think if you found a way to put two mesh ones together, like on on top of the other, it would be really clean. Just gotta figure out how to keep flexibility

  10. Jase Rusk

    You should see if you can implement electonic into it, maybe try and make it so it can shrink and expand at command, and maybe even (partially) form into shapes


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