Google ATAP taps on Stratasys PolyJet technology for Jacquard device prototyping

Problem solving is key at Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) division which focuses on creating, and one of them – Jacquard was revealed to have tapped on Stratasys’ multi-colour multi-material PolyJet 3D printing technology to carry out design iterations before actual release.

Jacquard by Google is a wearable platform that is designed to fit the digital world seamlessly into one’s lifestyle. With the use of a physical tag paired with an app, users can perform actions like playing music or answer calls. It can be attached seamlessly onto clothing or accessories, where users complete actions by either tapping or swiping the tag.

Samsonite Konnect-i Backpack with a Jacquard tag inserted into the strap – supports a total of four different gestures: swipe up, swipe down, double tap, and cover.

The tag sensor needed to be small and agile so that it can be integrated easily, from a jacket to a backpack to a shoe. But this also meant that the process can be complex and often require the coming together of multiple technologies for assembly.

Our team is really looking for solutions. We’re always searching and exploring new technologies, but in the end the most important thing is application-driven innovation.Bryan Allen, Technical Program Manager and ATAP Lab lead

This is where ATAP turned to the flexibility of Stratasys’ J8 Series PolyJet printer to produce a range of design iterations for the Jacquard Tag – from single-colour concept models to functional multi-material prototypes.

5 x 5 array of Google Jacquard tag prototypes 3D printed with Stratasys PolyJet 3D printers.
5 x 5 array of Google Jacquard tag prototypes 3D printed with Stratasys PolyJet 3D printers.

Designers could jump in at any stage of the design process, and work with literally flexible materials for further part realism. And like no other 3D printers in the world, the J8 Series were Pantone Validated which meant the ability to offer thousands of unique shades and the capability to simulate surface textures from wood grain to leather.

We’re talking about things that didn’t exist before. The team needs to be able to closely replicate the multi-material assembly of the final product, and that process needs to happen fast.

Typically, getting a multi-material prototype would take weeks, but with PolyJet, the ATAP team can hit print at the end of the day and have a high-fidelity model in engineers’ hands the next morning.Bryan Allen, Technical Program Manager and ATAP Lab lead

The recent support for compatibility with KeyShot 10 and the 3MF file format was also particularly helpful to better replicate how the final product looks.

A lot of designers are using KeyShot. The closer the end part coming off the printer looks to the KeyShot rendering and the easier it is to go from the designer’s vision to the final print, the better.Bryan Allen, Technical Program Manager and ATAP Lab lead
The Jacquard tag inserted into the sleeve of a denim jacket.
The Jacquard tag inserted into a denim jacket sleeve.

The result is that designers get more questions answered faster which means “de-risking” the process. There is more time to explore and optimize solutions and get critical needs done so you can move into the next stages.

That is critical for groups like ATAP which can focus on helping users in a range of different environments and experiences.

Moving forward, the team is now utilizing Stratasys’ Digital Anatomy Printer technology that can replicate the appearance, texture, and responsiveness of the human anatomy. From there, they hope to glean and tap on those insights to better their product development in producing wearable devices that more closely match designer intent and real-world materials.

Printers are really catching up to how designers think about design and materials.

The future is coming a lot faster than we thought it would, and at Google ATAP, we’re building the capabilities for us to be able to predict what’s possible.Bryan Allen, Technical Program Manager and ATAP Lab lead

Learn more about J8 Series

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