A team at Cornell University has developed a new 3D printing system that allows users to create rough prototypes of their models in real time as they are designing them. Reader Huaishu Peng, who last year was part of the Disney Research team that created a fabric lamination printer, wrote in to tell us about this new project that his team will be presenting at this years CHI conference.
The system begins with a Rhino plugin that chooses the best order of operations when printing, in order to maximize the printability of the model and help prevent collisions. The plugin sends commands to a custom printer that features a rotating build platform as well as the ability to change the angle of the platform, reducing the issue of overhangs often found in FDM printing. The printer creates simple wireframe models, skipping the lengthy process of making a full shell. To help speed up the process, the machine features two misting nozzles that reduce the cooling time of the filament as it extrudes. If modifications need to be made to the print after extrusion is complete, a milling head is also included that can trim away parts of the print.
One of the biggest issues designers find in getting started with 3D design is not being able to translate how big a final object will really be once it’s printed. While the output prints from this machine are extremely rough, the idea of this project is not to create final products, but instead rough prototypes that give the creator an idea of real world dimensions.
While the realtime features of this machine are super unique and a great experiment, I would love to see more of what this machine might be capable of when it comes to creating traditional prints. The ability to print in nearly any direction on the model without worries of overhangs, coupled with the ability to cut, drill, or mill to smooth the print brings to mind a wide range of possibilities.