3D printing is coming to the soft toy arena with a development at Disney Research Pittsburgh. A paper presented at the Association for Computing Machinery's CHI conference in Seoul, Korea, in April described a new type of 3D printer that can form precise, but soft and deformable 3D objects from layers of off-the-shelf fabric. The printer fabricates soft objects and provides support for interactivity including touch sensing and wireless power.
The printer employs an approach where a sheet of fabric forms each layer of a 3D object. The printer cuts this sheet along the 2D contour of the layer using a laser cutter and then bonds it to previously printed layers using a heat sensitive adhesive.