An innovative robotic needle felting process has been developed by researchers at the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning in the US.
Wes McGee, Tsz Yan Ng and Asa Peller are the brains behind this new process, which would lead to an improvement in the precision and speed of manufacturing of felt.
It would also mean that felt could be made in more complex shapes than before and could also have additional properties built into the panels even though they would not necessarily be seen on the surface.
It presents a unique opportunity to investigate the potentials of an additive manufacturing approach.
Using wool, polyester or a combination of both, the printing prototypes utilise three different felting techniques – quilting, shiplap and shingle. Shiplap is a technique of overlapping which is often used in timber planks, while shingle is a technique with overlapping tiles.
“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."