Disney Research Is Leveling Up 3D Machine Knitting

A new compiler makes the process literally seamless.

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You can 3D print your braces, your food, and (disturbingly) a gun, so 3D printed knitted outfits shouldn’t be too much of a stretch of the imagination.

But while 3D printing makes for predictably faster and cheaper production, it’s nowhere close to perfect, mostly because customization isn’t really an option (can you imagine tinkering with edits on a needle-level?).

Disney Research is trying to solve this problem. A video released Tuesday explains a new invention designed to make 3D machine knitting a more flexible process, where high-level products can be created from low-level instructions.

Disney Research describes this invention as a “compiler” with a “transfer planning algorithm.” This algorithm moves cycles of stitches between bed positions while respecting the length constraints between stitches. With this algorithm, the compiler can take shape primitives — the tubes and sheets that make up knitted objects — and schedule, scale, and shape them into easily edited items. You can check out the process here:

In a corresponding paper, the researchers behind the compiler write that before this invention, designers who wanted to similarly alter the shape of their products would have to make “thousands of edits to low-level instructions.” A world with personalized plush animals? Sign us up.

Technology can make some pretty cute stuff.

Disney Research/Gipy