Science and Engineering keep getting ahead of me. I want to figure out how to manufacture feathers. Natural feathers have properties that have evolved over millions of years and the are grown, not made. Their structure is simple to understand but hard to imagine a way to make one. The most interesting thing about them is something I discovered as a kid playing with the feathers on a toy Indian War Bonnet. The part of the feather that branches off of the shaft called barbs have further branches called barbules that interlock with the barbules of the adjacent barbs with hooks.
The neat thing is that the barbs can be separated and then easily reconnected like Velcro®. It is like a self healing fabric. But how to duplicate it with modern manufacturing methods?
Then I thought of 3D printing. This new process has been used in prototyping complex shapes for a while now, so that it is possible to create a model of things that are impractical to make by hand. Things that have hollow spaces and connected parts that could not be made separately and later put together. I wondered if it would be possible to create a feather using this process.
This article seems to have the answer.
"The designers, Jenna Fizel and Mary Haung, are committed to pushing the boundaries of digital fabrication tools, with 3D printing their latest initiative. Since it’s solid plastic, Nylon 12’s strength allows it to be printed as thin as 0.7mm, but it can also make springs that bend and stretch, which can simulate fabric, making it an ideal choice for the swimsuit, according to the designers. The nylon is also waterproof -- apt, of course, for a bikini. The designers opted to experiment with 3D printing on a bikini design specifically because of the low amount of material required. Because the design fits exactly within the print area of the machine, the print models come out in a single piece, with no additional assembly required."
Now, I just need a CAD system and access to one of these machines.