Introduction: 3d Print Fabric - Goosebump Fractal

About: SENSOREE Design Lab crafts bio-responsive fashions with expressive technology. Our Therapeutic Biomedia monitors the body systems and animates emotion with audio, visual, or tactile displays. We work with futu…

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With the AWElectric design, SENSOREE Design Lab developed a new technique that fuses 3d prints with fabric. This Instructable focuses on the 3d print fabric component of this multifaceted design.

Step 1: Goosebump Fractal Design Concept

Inspired by the human body that requires connective tissue betweens the bones, SENSOREE has created this fabric with joint material between the 3d prints. In this way, the fabric mimics our articulations, movements, and expressions.

Goosebump Fractals

The hexagon construction of the Goosebump Fractals are digital representations of skin cells, inspired by Buckminster Fuller’s Geodesic domes and the machine gesture of polygons. The 3d print design covers a silicone inflatable and expands with the emotional peak of awe. The inflation opens the hexagon spike into 6 triangles to animate the thrill of goosebumps.

Design Concept

Inspired by the phrase, That gave me goosebumps. Did you feel it too? The AWElectric is a duet design that animates the emotionally charged goosebumps, amplifies them, and shares the thrill.

The AWElectric animates awe – the subtle mix of fear and wonder that sends shutters up your spine and provokes aesthetic goosebumps also called frisson. Often felt from the sublime vast views of nature, authentic performance, or the Ah-ha moment, we sought to capture this sensation and showcase with extimacy – externalized intimacy. A series of biosensors visualizes breathing with illuminated color, monitors and amplifies frisson with inflatable 3d print fabric, and then sends to the sensation to another via AudioTactile fabric that is like a speaker that sends frequency to induce goosebumps.

Step 2: Materials + Tech


  • PLA filament
  • Blue painters tape
  • Binder Clips
  • Power Mesh Lycra Fabric

Polylactic Acid (PLA) filament for the 3d printer is biodegradable.

Blue painters tape to line the print bed for easy print removal after. Also, to hold down the fabric.

Binder Clips to help hold down the fabric.

Power Mesh Lycra fabric is durable (mostly nylon), stretchable, and it is porous, so you can print into the fabric. The PLA filament fuses through the mesh.

Other porous fabrics work well like tulle, panty hose, or a loose weave.

Also, try other filaments. Experiment and share!


The 3d printers we worked with are the Makerbot Replicator, Ultimaker, and the RepRap. They all worked well.

Step 3: Model Your Design

Model a design

Option A: Separate the G-code into 2 parts to make a 3d print fabric sandwich

Option B: Pause the printer manually


  1. Print 3-5 bottom layers
  2. Pause the printer
  3. Add fabric cut to size of the printer bed. Tape down edges with blue painters tape or use binder clips to affix in place.
  4. Continue to print the top layers of your design (at least 3 layers)
  5. When print is done, let cool.
  6. Slowly remove the print. Carefully use spatula and/or remove the blue tape on the bed.

Step 4: Print 3-5 Base Layers

It's printing time!

  • Line the print bed with the blue tape
  • Warm up the 3d printer and heat the bed
  • Print the first 3-5 base layers
  • Pause the printer

Step 5: Tape Down Fabric to Heat Bed

  • Cut fabric to size of heat bed
  • Lay the fabric on the bed
  • Tape down the edges with blue painter’s tape or binder clips to the edges of the heat bed
  • Avoid any tension on the fabric or the extruder will pull it off the bed

Step 6: Continuing Print the Remaining Layers

  • Continue to print the top layers. We recommend at least 3-5 layers again to get a good seal. The first layers of the 3d print part 2 seems to disappear to fill in the fabric.

Step 7: Let It Cool. Un-tape the Fabric and Slowly Peel Off the Heat Bed.

  • Let the printer cool.
  • Un-tape the fabric and slowly, gently peel the print off the heat bed.

Step 8: Viola! the 3d Print Is Fused in the Fabric

The final step for AWElectric design was to add light and inflatables to the 3d print fabric.

The 3d print Fractal Fabric covers inflatable silicone pockets that trigger when awe is detected with the biosensors.

During our design research process, we initially asked people to draw colors they felt with the aesthetic goosebumps and then mapped location and colors into the design. LED lights illuminate breathing rate as a orange pulse and the awe state instigates a violet flicker. The photo at the top shows how the lighting serendipitously resembles the changing sunset sky.

Please also view our article in MAKE

SENSOREE 3d print fractal fabric team:

Kristin Neidlinger – Concept Design Lead

Elena Mitro – 3d model

Colin Willson – 3d print tech

Eugenie Lacombe - Assistant

Photography by Elena Kulikova and Sensoree©

Models Ernest Kahn, Kelsy Hiyakumoto

Thank you to MU Artspace for commissioning as part of the Body of Matter – Body based bio art & design exhibit. MU Eindhoven, Netherlands 27 November 2015 – 7 February 2016.