MIT’s OpenFab Could Revolutionize 3D Printing Design Process
MIT Researches Use CGI Techniques to Simplify 3D Printing
A group of researchers at MIT are taking a page from the movie business to revolutionize 3D printing. They have developed an architecture pipeline, called OpenFab, that aims to dramatically reduce the learning curve and barriers involved in designing for 3D printing.
“Our goal is to make 3D printing much easier and less computationally complex,” said Associate Professor Wojciech Matusik, co-author of the papers and a leader of the Computer Graphics Group at CSAIL, in an interview with MITnews. “Ours is the first work that unifies design, development and implementation into one seamless process, making it possible to easily translate an object from a set of specifications into a fully operational 3D print.”
With the state of 3D printing today, it’s relatively easy to press print when you have a finished 3D model, but it’s quite a challenge to create a design from scratch that can be 3D printed. OpenFab hopes to change that.
Here is the abstract from the paper published by MIT researchers. Full details available at the OpenFab website.
3D printing hardware is rapidly scaling up to output continuous mixtures of multiple materials at increasing resolution over ever larger print volumes. This poses an enormous computational challenge: large high-resolution prints comprise trillions of voxels and petabytes of data and simply modeling and describing the input with spatially varying material mixtures at this scale is challenging. Existing 3D printing software is insufficient; in particular, most software is designed to support only a few million primitives, with discrete material choices per object.
We present OpenFab, a programmable pipeline for synthesis of multi-material 3D printed objects that is inspired by RenderMan and modern GPU pipelines. The pipeline supports procedural evaluation of geometric detail and material composition, using shader-like fablets, allowing models to be specified easily and efficiently. We describe a streaming architecture for OpenFab; only a small fraction of the final volume is stored in memory and output is fed to the printer with little startup delay. We demonstrate it on a variety of multi-material objects.