Flexible, fabric-like 3D-printed objects are becoming more accessible, and now it looks like inflatable objects are not far behind. Designer Richard Clarkson recently revealed his project Blossom, a 3D-printed flower made with mixed materials that allow it to be inflated with air — and bloom like a real flower. The project was completed about a year and a half ago, but because of restrictions from its collaboration with Objet—it, Blossom has only just been released for the public to see.
Clarkson used what he describes as "simultaneous deposition of different build materials in a single print," which means different substances were used in various amounts during one print job. The rigid structure of Blossom's flower is made of Fullcure 720, a clear, solid substance, and the flexible petals are made of a rubbery black material called Tango Black. By designating how much of each material to use at the point of print, Clarkson was able to create each section with the correct amount of rigid and flexible materials to make the organic form of a flower.
When filled with air, the flower's rubbery petals "bloom" by pushing outwards, while the center remains solid. The outer portions of the petals contain less solid resin than the parts toward the stem, allowing them to maintain their natural shape as they expand. It might not be the most practical application for mixed material 3D printing, but Blossom is a beautiful piece of art that shows the potential of 3D printing with multiple materials.