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3D Printed Light

Materials and Equipment Needed

  1.  3D printer - this project works best with ABS or PLA material as this has a low melting point and will stick to the polyester fabric. 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. 

  2. Lightweight 100% polyester textile fabric. It's important the fabric is 100% polyester as any additional fibres will have a negative impact on thermoforming properties of the polyester.

  3. Light source e.g. battery operated tea light, electronic circuit or e-textiles.

  4. Iron or heat press. Baking parchment or Teflon sheets may also be needed to protect the materials - test samples first to identify the correct temperature that will bond the materials together without melting them out of shape.

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 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. 

Instructions

  • Design and 3D print 3 triangles for the sides of the pyramid ​​​. 

Click here for the STL file for the triangle design shown in the photos (note this file is for a small sized triangle).

  • Place a piece of polyester on the back of each triangle (it should be bigger than the 3D printed shape) and iron or use a heat press to bond the two together (experiment first to get the right temperature to form a bond without melting the materials out of shape). Baking parchment or a Teflon sheet can be used to prevent the materials from scorching. 

  • Allow the materials to cool - you might notice the 3D printing hardening and the polyester fabric crinkling slightly as this happens.

  • When the materials are cool trim the fabric edges to the size of the 3D printing. 

  • Join the edges e.g. using glue, using hand oversewing stitches.

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  • ​Place the light source under the base of the pyramid.

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Notes for Teachers

If you're using this idea in a D&T classroom the following might be potential learning points that could be focused on e.g.

  • Thermoforming polymers

  • Textiles materials

  • Properties of materials

  • 3D printing/new technologies

  • Hand sewing

  • E-textiles/electronics

  • Use of CAD/CAM

  • 2D and 3D shapes

  • Pyramids (including maths links)

  • Functional product: light (including users needs & design context)

How the idea might be developed further e.g. 

  • Develop the functionality of the product e.g. using programmable components and adding a light sensor

  • Develop the size and shape of the light

  • Substitute 3D printing for a different technique and material e.g. laser cutting

  • Develop the surface 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

  • Evaluating the impact of the product

  • Marketing and branding of the product

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