We're 3D printing pretty much everything these days, at least in laboratories. So why not venture out into cuddly materials? Disney Research is looking into leveraging the technique to create soft toys that children can snuggle without fear of scratching their sensitive skin. The prototype machine uses wool felt and a sewing machine like needle mechanism to connect one layer to the next. The result is a soft and pliable creation based on a standard CAD model that could be used with any other 3D printer. More importantly though, the felt can be layered around other materials to introduce stiffness, embed electronic hardware or even create moveable appendages. So you could create a completely custom teddy bear that hugs your child and speaks. It's a little early to say that Buildabear should be worried, but we wouldn't be resting on our laurels if we were them. Check out the video of the felt 3D printer in action after the break.

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Disney experimenting with 3D printing teddy bears in felt