3D printers tell you when your design will fail

a project by Purdue University and Adobe Systems Inc. presented at SIGGRAPH 2012 (VIDEO)
3D printing is a rapidly maturing area that has shown great progress over the past couple of years. It is now possible to produce 3D printed objects with exceptionally high fidelity and precision. However, while the quality of 3D printing has gone up, both the time to print and material costs have remained high. Moreover, there is no guarantee that a printed model is structurally sound. Many times, the printed product does not survive cleaning, transportation, or handling, or it even collapses under its own weight.

We present a system that addresses this issue by providing automatic detection and correction of the problematic cases. The structural problems are detected by combining a lightweight structure analysis solver with 3D medial axis approximations. After areas with high structural stress are found, the model is corrected by combining three approaches: hollowing, thickening, and strut insertion. This detection and correction repeats until all problematic cases are corrected. Our process is designed to create a model that is visually similar to the original model, while possessing greater structural integrity.

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