The researchers are augmenting the limitations of 3D printers day after day. Dense and finely featured items were deemed off-limits so far. The reason being that the computer-aided design (CAD) files needed would take hours to compute due to their large size. However, researchers at MIT Media Lab have devised new software that helps in preventing this obstacle.
This software, known as Cilllia, employs sliders to assist the users in generating surfaces buried in thousands of hairs with a resolution of 50 microns, about the width of a human hair. This method only takes a few minutes unlike CAD, where each hair needs to be drawn separately.
A first author Jifei Ou, an MIT graduate student in media arts and sciences, stated: “[Hair] comes with a challenge that is not on the hardware, but on the software side.”
Along with a real-time visual demonstration, Cilllia permits rapid modifications to the parameters of the hair structure via sliders. In addition to the adjustment of height, thickness, profile and angle, the user can also adjust the quantity of hair on a structure. Curved hairs in a spiral pattern can also be produced by this software.
By means of stereolithography 3D printing, a program has been created that can be used to produce brush structures in several forms. The team produced paintbrushes that are Velcro-like pads that are attached to each other, hair-based actuation, and a furred toy bunny that lights up green when you stroke it properly.
As said by Canalys, this industry will be worth over $20 billion by 2019 being the most recent advancement in 3D printing.
Represented at the Association for Computing Machinery’s CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in May, the team’s paper established: “The ability to fabricate customized hair-like structures not only expands the library of 3D-printable shapes, but also enables us to design alternative actuator and sensors. 3D-printed hair can be used for designing everyday interactive objects.”