Strings attached

Whether it’s superstrings in physics or the first violin in a symphony orchestra, strings run the universe. Invisible strings control everything from creepy marionettes to the direction of the global economy.  Without them, we would lack conduits for mechanical forces and fodder for cheesy metaphors.
Strings. They form the fabric of human society and the clothing we all hope you’re wearing right now.


When it comes to engineering, how can strings help? There are plenty of cable-driven and articulated designs where automated string installation would greatly speed up the build. Conductive, shrinking, and optical fibers add functions desktop 3D printers are not yet able to provide. These are the reasons we have been working on methods to insert strings and fibers into 3D printed and laser cut parts.
Manual string installation from YouTube assembly videos of articulated 3D printed parts

Manual string installation from YouTube assembly videos of articulated 3D printed parts

(a) Fold-flat bike helmet assembly
(b) eNable prosthetic hand assembly
(c) Articulated dragon model assembly


How about some ideas from nature? Tendons come to mind,  but here is something weirder: the mysterious extinct animal Dinomischus of the Burgess Shale used strings at its core. Were they muscle fibers? Intriguing but unlikely, say paleontologists. Was their only function to keep the stomach in place, just like bungees keep a zorber centered? And how did they grow? Who knows for sure. Only three Dinomischus fossils have been found.
Screen Shot 2016-05-28 at 3.18.14 PM
The strings or “suspensory fibers” are labeled “Sus. Fb.” in this image from

Wow, you really cannot get enough strings. You have come to the right place. Here’s an image of Dinomischus…made from fibers.
Dinomischus From


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