A group of students at MIT Media Lab's Tangible Media Group in collaboration with Fluid Interfaces has created a new design and fabrication system that they call Printflatables. Their system can produce "human-scale, functional and dynamic inflatable objects." If that doesn't sound exciting, well, take a look at some of the potential applications:
We use inextensible thermoplastic fabric as the raw material with the key principle of introducing folds and thermal sealing.
Upon inflation, the sealed object takes the expected three dimen- sional shape.
The workflow begins with the user specifying an intended 3D model which is decomposed to two dimensional fabrication geometry. This forms the input for a numerically controlled thermal contact iron that seals layers of thermoplastic fabric.
I for one am eager to see more of those human-power-augmenting applications. I'd love to see some designs that could help the arthritic and/or disabled.
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