#ThinkDoMAKE: 3D Printing & Non Woven Textiles

L IMG 5993

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#ThinkDoMAKE: From 2D to 3D

3D printed light

Let’s Learn

This is a starting point for an idea only. The idea will need to be developed and a scheme of learning created in relation to the context of learnersAn iterative design approach is encouraged. Credit should be given to the original source where appropriate.

  • Thermoforming polymers
  • Textiles materials
  • Properties of materials
  • 3D printing
  • Hand sewing
  • E-textiles
  • Use of CAD/CAM
  • 2D and 3D shapes
  • Pyramids (including maths links)
  • Functional product: light

(Outcome is delicate & fiddly so consider this when choosing groups to do the project )

Developing the idea & the learning further (these are a few examples only)

  • Developing the idea to meet the needs of a specific user/design context
  • Develop the functionality of the product e.g. adding sound
  • Develop the size and shape of the light
  • Substitute 3D printing for a different technique and material e.g. laser cutting
  • Develop the pattern used on each 3D printed shape
  • Decorate the textiles fabric e.g. sublimation printed
  • Develop hinges or folding sections e.g. a net that folds to create the 3D shape
  • Experiment with other materials 
  • Model different outcomes (iterative design)
  • Link to the design theme e.g. Bauhaus, a designer, a culture
  • Use electronics rather than e-textiles
  • Use programmable components
  • Identifying resources, costs and planning manufacture
  • Evaluating the impact of the product
  • Marketing and branding of the product

Review the learning that could be included in this project against the key learning areas curriculum document

Materials & any specialist equipment used in the example

  • 3D printing filament (& 3D printer)
  • 100% polyester (iron on interfacing can also be used)
  • E-textiles components: Cell holder with latching switch, conductive thread, LED, embroidery thread (Kitronik sell these components)
  • Felt fabric for the e-textiles base
  • Iron or heat press (baking parchment or Teflon sheets may be needed to protect the materials - test samples of material first to identify correct temperature)

Note: This project works best with ABS or PLA material as this has a low melting point and will stick to the polyester. How good the stick is depends on a number of variables including the thickness of the materials. Glue can be used to make the adhesion stronger or where the materials don’t melt. Iron on interfacing is also good to experiment with. 


Print the 3D printed shapes

Click here for the STL file for the triangles shown in the photos

L IMG 5984

Place the polyester on top of the triangle and iron using a hot iron or a heat press. You will need to experiment to get the heat level right to avoid burning the polyester and to get the temperature just right for both thermoforming materials to stick to each other without completely deforming. Baking parchment or a silicone sheet can be placed on top to prevent burning especially in a heat press. 

L IMG 8659

Allow the fabric and 3D printing to cool before moving it then trim the fabric edge. As it cools you will notice the 3D printing reharden and the polyester crinkles a little. Stitch the triangles together to create a pyramid. An oversewing stitch has been used inn the photo. Edges could also be glued. 

Stitch the e-textiles circuit. This sits under the pyramid. The e-textiles circuit in the photo uses a cell holder with a latching switch and a flat PCB LED. Other types of circuits could be used. Click here for more information on creating e-textiles circuits. 

pyramid light

Practical activities and ideas are provided as a starting point only. Students should use these as inspiration as part of an iterative design process developing the idea further themselves. Credit should be given to the original source where appropriate.

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