Students from Taubman Design College in the US have created a new machine that 3D prints felt and has the potential to create soundproofing materials for interiors.
Currently the team have built felt pouffes and prototype panels with their robotic needle process, which they invented the tools and workflow for.
Felt is made from bonding together layers of either wool, polyester or a blend of the two.
The Taubman team’s new technology, which they have described as a type of additive manufacturing, uses barbed needles to tangle together the fibres.
Their tool felts in three dimensions rather than two, which means that a felt panel can have different properties of thickness and stiffness within the interior.
They have flagged this as particularly useful for bespoke sound-dampening panels and will continue to research and manufacture this.
“While notable CNC examples exist, such as weaving and 3D knitting, these processes impose limitations on the resulting part thickness and fibre density,” said the team.
“Given the unique capacity of felt to be seamlessly ‘added’ into a cohesive solid, it presents a unique opportunity to investigate the potentials of an additive manufacturing approach.”
Designers and roboticists led by Wes McGee, Tsz Yan Ng and Asa Peller collaborated through the project on designs and creative ideas “never seen before”.
“What this manufacturing process produced was unique in terms of aesthetic experience, efficient in terms of manufacturing, and as a process, scalable to other applications,” they said.
The market for Polyester Fiber acoustic panels is expected to grow significantly in the next five years, according to recently published research conducted by Transparency Market Research.
Expanding applications and easy availability of raw materials and low entry barriers are some of the key factors identified behind the increased production and sales.
Images courtesy of Dezeen
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