This 3D printed textile is an exploration in future materials for personal wear and protection. This textile was designed on a very simple square grid and printed with a hard, strong resin. However, while the material itself is brittle and inelastic, the unique geometry and arrangement of ‘+’ shaped units give this piece incredible flexibility, and elasticity as a whole textile swatch.
I printed this swatch on a SLA printer (Form2) with clear resin. This prototype textile swatch is printed as one continuous piece, no assembly required.
Designed by Annie Zhang
This drawing is from my 3D model (made in Rhino with Grasshopper). The pink lines indicate the base units that are built from a square grid. The opaque pink areas indicate the vertical pieces that span the top and bottom planes of my material. The translucent teal areas represent the circular plates of varying size that are superimposed on top surface of the textile grid.
Prototype A: ABS and FDM printer
I initially printed a small section of the swatch on a FDM printer with ABS filament. While this helped me more concretely visualize the 3D geometry ad size of my textile, it was incredibly brittle and shattered under any bending force applied to it.
Prototype B: Flexible Resin and SLA printer
Next, I tried to solve the brittleness issue by using a resin that results in rubbery, flexible prints. This turned out to be a little too flexible for my model and all the layers merged into one flat flexible layer because the print could not hold itself in position throughout the printing process.
Prototype C: Clear Resin and SLA Printer
I was much more successful with the clear resin on the same SLA printer. While the clear resin is also hard and brittle (similar to ABS) the SLA printing method created layers that are “less discrete” and adhere to each other better than the FDM printing method.
Final Prototype: Parametric Modeling
I increased the size of my swatch to see how the textile would behave in larger pieces. I also added circular plates on one side of the swatch. Using Grasshopper, I was able to create a script that allowed me to vary the radius of each circle depending on proximity to a control line, effectively creating a gradient of density in the textile. Larger adjacent circular plates limit the amount the material can bend in certain directions, and thus create a textile that can be programmed to have variable flexibility and strength.
If the circular plates are oriented facing outward, a unique effect is created: as the textile bends, the porosity of the material changes. More bend increases porosity.
Demo of the range of motion and flexibility of this swatch