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Design before 3D print takes on a different turn

Posted: 14 Sep 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MIT? 3D printing? design? CAD?

A team of researchers at MIT and the Interdisciplinary Centre Herzliya in Israel has developed a browser-based user interface that allows anyone to modify and quickly visualise a whole new design space around an original 3D part, while doing all the necessary checks (printability, structural analysis) in the background.

In a paper titled "Fab Forms: Customisable Objects for Fabrication with Validity and Geometry Caching," MIT graduate student in computer science and engineering Masha Shugrina detailed how she leverages cloud computing to pre-qualify parametric design variations for manufacturability based on adaptive sampling of the design space.

3D printing is taking over the world, it seems, but so far non-CAD users are only left with catalogue parts to choose from. Modifying an existing 3D digital file can be painstaking for the non-initiated, and even for experts, the tedious process could turn a good product design into a non-printable part or something that would lack the structural integrity of the original design.

Hence, typical 3D printing houses and file repositories only offer proven printable products with very little room for customisation. Yes, you can probably tick some boxes to choose the material or the colour, sometimes there is room to carve out some text, but any other modification would in essence mean a redesign and performing a battery of 3D-printability checks, at your own risks.

Customisation in 3D printing

For each original 3D design, the authors perform a precomputation of the modified object by varying the general design parametres and then prune off the non-printable or structurally non-viable results from the exploration space.

For practical purposes, only a few parametres are left visible to the online users who can interactively sweep a small set of parametres through different values using virtual sliders (the other hidden parametres will be swept based on their geometric ties with the visible parametres).

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