New software Platener speeds up prototyping process by swapping out 3D printing for laser cutting

When developing new product design concepts, 3D printing is among one of the fastest ways of iterating through multiple concepts in an effort to find the best design direction.  After all, 3D printing didn’t just adopt the term “rapid prototyping” for no reason; what used to take months or weeks now only takes days or hours.

Platener, a research project of the Hasso-Plattner Institut in Germany is a system that allows quickly fabricating intermediate design iterations of 3D models, a process also known as low-fidelity fabrication.

Platener achieves its speed-up by extracting straight and curved plates from the 3D model and substituting them with laser cut parts of the same size and thickness. Only the regions that are of relevance to the current design iteration are executed as full-detail 3D prints. Platener connects the parts it has created by automatically inserting joints. To help fast assembly it engraves instructions. Platener allows users to customize substitution results by (1) specifying fidelity-speed tradeoffs, (2) choosing whether or not to convert curved surfaces to plates bent using heat, and (3) specifying the conversion of individual plates and joints interactively.

Platener is designed to best preserve the fidelity of functional objects, such as casings and mechanical tools, all of which contain a large percentage of straight/rectilinear elements. Compared to other low-fab systems, such as faBrickator and WirePrint, Platener better preserves the stability and functionality of such objects: the resulting assemblies have fewer parts and the parts have the same size and thickness as in the 3D model.  (read more)



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