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MIT Simplifies Design Process For 3D Printing 45

An anonymous reader writes: New software out of MIT and the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya in Israel takes CAD files and automatically builds visual models that users can alter with simple, visual sliders. It works by computing myriad design variations before a user asks for them. When the CAD file is loaded, the software runs through a host of size variations on various properties of the object, evaluating whether the changes would work in a 3D printer, and doing the necessary math to plan tool routes. When a user moves one of the sliders, it switches the design along these pre-computer values. "The system automatically weeds out all the parameter values that lead to unprintable or unstable designs, so the sliders are restricted to valid designs. Moving one of the sliders — changing the height of the shoe's heel, say, or the width of the mug's base — sweeps through visual depictions of the associated geometries."

There are two big drawbacks: first, it requires a lot of up-front processing power to compute the variations on an object. Second, resolution for changes is fixed if you want quick results — changing the design for a pair of 3D-printed shoes from size 8 to size 9 might be instantaneous, but asking for a shoe that's a quarter of a millimeter longer than a size 8 would take several minutes to process. But for scrolling through the pre-computed design changes, the software can present "in real time what would take hours to calculate with a CAD program," and without the requisite experience with CAD.
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MIT Simplifies Design Process For 3D Printing

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  • Enough (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Enough with the 3D printing crap. It is junk. No one needs more cheap plastic junk.

    • Enough with the dot matrix printers and pen plotters. No one needs to print computerized junk.
      • My Houston Instruments analog X-Y pen plotter should be good enough for anything. If you want a particular pattern, set your function generators* to .5 hertz and choose your waveform!

        (*you will need two signals, one for the X input and one for the Y input. Amplitude is nominal. the front end of the plotter has 1/2/5x amplitude settings for three or four decades.)

    • Anyone who says such things and anyone who mods them up simply lacks the imagination to know what to do with a 3D printer.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Is this a headline because it includes Israel or because it sucks up to MIT?

    I really can't tell, because the technology is many years old and seems like actual engineering firms/design companies already have stuff to do exactly this. If they don't, they haven't been paying attention or hiring people with a clue.

  • Or you could just design it the way you want it in the first place
    • Is this the what the product manager describes, what they really meant, what they want after presenting the prototype to a customer, what they want after getting the costing, or what can be ready in time for the trade show?

    • Or you could just design it the way you want it in the first place

      This will be a design tool, in the box with all the other tools. For example, it's common for large european sedans to be offered with multiple wheelbases. Having auto-generated sliders that would let you stretch a car in between any pair of pillars would simplify design time. And someday, when 3d "printing" is far more developed than it is now, you'll stretch the car however you want it before you "print" it. Perhaps we'll come up with some way to form sheet metal panels without making stamping dies, or ma

  • I taught myself the basics of 3d printing without prior experience. At first I beat my head against the big name CAD tools from companies like Autodesk and Adobe, as well as opensource ones like freeCAD. I didn't need to do fancy high-detail modeling (which is hit-or-miss anyway due to printer fidelity and general hiccups in hardware). Eventually I found a free tool online at Tinkercad.com. Shortly after I started using it, it was bought out by Autodesk however they've still kept it free. It doesn't ha
    • The big name CAD tools aren't from companies like Autodesk and Adobe. Those are the cheapass pretenders which aren't great. The big names are PTC (Pro/E) and Dassult (Solidworks) and a few more obscure and much more expensive ones.

      But they're also fearsomely difficult to learn. The assumption is if you've forked over $10k for a license, you already know how to use it or will go on a course. They're designed to be fast and easy by people using them all day every day, not unfortunately, new users.

  • ....changing the design for a pair of 3D-printed shoes from size 8 to size 9 might be instantaneous, but asking for a shoe that's a quarter of a millimeter longer than a size 8 would take several minutes to process...

    So what they are trying to tell me is that this software, in computing the various options it is going to offer the user, somehow knows the settings to use for standard sizes of shoes but doesn't compute variations other than the standard sizes? And by implication it would know the standar

  • Automatic part arrangement has been done for 2D CNC laser and plasma cutting tables for decades.

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