Dec.3, 2012

3D printing technology is becoming cheaper and simpler to use. It has been used in wide applications, but still, one of the remaining obstacles is that the object to be printed must fit into the working volume of the 3D printer. Existing commercial systems rely on manual partitioning, but this can be tedious if many parts are needed.

Linjie Luo at Princeton University and colleagues developed a framework, called Chopper, to break up a large 3D object into smaller parts so that each part can be made on a 3D printer. These parts can then be assembled using connectors to form the original object.

We formulate a number of desirable criteria for the partition, including assemblability, having few components, unobtrusiveness of the seams, and structural soundness. Chopper optimizes these criteria and generates a partition either automatically or with user guidance. Our prototype outputs the final decomposed parts with customized connectors on the interfaces.

 

Researchers have evaluated Chopper on a number of models printed on different 3D printers, ranging from commercial to hobbyist-grade.

The following images show a few examples. The kitten was printed on a Fortus 400mc, the helmet and fertility models on an Objet Connex500, and the armadillo on a Bits from Bytes BFB-3000.

(3D printed on a Fortus 400mc 3D printer)

(3D printed on a Objet Connex500 3D printer)

(3D printed on a Objet Connex500 3D printer)

(3D printed on a Bits from Bytes BFB-3000 3D printer)

We found that the commercial printers were able to produce parts that fit together reasonably well, but the Bits from Bytes printer produced significant distortion in the printed parts, due to uneven cooling during printing and deformation of parts under their own weight.

 

We also attempted to produce results using an extremely low-cost printer (Makerbot Thing-O-Matic), but found that the printed parts had sufficient de-formation to be unusable. We expect that changes to the driver software of such printers could result in more usable prints.

The research was presented at the SIGGRAPH Asia conference, a world-renowned platform for showcasing the best in animation and digital media in Singapore last week.

 

Images credit: Chopper

Source: Princeton via New Scientist

 

Posted in 3D Software

 

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