Automated system to identify and repair potential weak-spots in 3D models before they're printed

"Stress Relief: Improving Structural Strength of 3-D Printable Objects," a paper presented at SIGGRAPH 2012 from Purdue University's Bedrich Benes demonstrated an automated system for predicting when 3D models would produce structural weaknesses if they were fed to 3D printers, and to automatically modify the models to make them more hardy.

Findings were detailed in a paper presented during the SIGGRAPH 2012 conference in August. Former Purdue doctoral student Ondrej Stava created the software application, which automatically strengthens objects either by increasing the thickness of key structural elements or by adding struts. The tool also uses a third option, reducing the stress on structural elements by hollowing out overweight elements.

"We not only make the objects structurally better, but we also make them much more inexpensive," Mech said. "We have demonstrated a weight and cost savings of 80 percent."

The new tool automatically identifies "grip positions" where a person is likely to grasp the object. A "lightweight structural analysis solver" analyzes the object using a mesh-based simulation. It requires less computing power than traditional finite-element modeling tools, which are used in high-precision work such as designing jet engine turbine blades.

New Tool Gives Structural Strength to 3-D Printed Works


  1. Or … just use traditional finite-element modeling tools, which have been designed to solve exactly this problem and have been used that way for a couple of decades, and get an accurate answer.  The necessary compute power is not in short supply.  SIGGRAPH is the wrong place to submit a paper like that if you’re serious, because the referees won’t be competent to evaluate the paper.  Perhaps they really do have an advance, but a mechanical CAD expert would be in more of a position to evaluate it.

    1. I don’t think the target market is people who are comfortable using traditional finite-element modeling tools. It sounds like it’s a quick and easy way to ensure structural integrity for models made by artists and hobbyists. I, for one, would find it extremely useful, and I’m not aware of an equivalent product currently on the market.

      1.  Well in essence that’s the problem. It’s people that are use to doing animation going straight in to fabrication. If they were doing this professionally they could have used a myriad of tools that do just this (such as Autodesk Inventor) and much more, but as something that a blender user could just grab to test a model it would do the job.

        Or you can just grab a 30 day trial of Inventor now to test your banana man.

    2. I get the impression that, for better and worse, 3D printing(outside, perhaps, of some rather expensive gear used to attain geometry that multiple axis milling machines can’t) is surprisingly divorced from conventional machining’s body of techniques and knowledge.

      On the plus side, the influx of polygon-pushing optimists has created a crazy cheap and fairly accessible collection of hardware and software. On the minus side, it isn’t uncommon to see graphics wonks or general geek futurists painfully extruding polymer filaments into a lousier version of something that the guys in the machine shop could bang out from bar stock in twenty minutes… A fresh perspective isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and one side or the other had to make the overture in order to bridge the gap between computer models and real objects; but there is a certain amount of wheel-reinventing going on…

    3. Or… If tradition is the important factor why not “just” use the traditional lost wax process to recreate sculptures, a procedure that has been used for a couple of millennia.  The necessary wax is not in short supply. Of course, SIGWAX is the wrong place to submit a paper like that.  If you’re serious.

  2. Does it strike anybody else that the phrase “Improved by Hollowing and Adding Multiple Struts” will some day be the death-knell of humanity overtaken by a highly efficient and questionably targeted civil-engineering AI?

    The survivors will cower; but none will escape having their overweight elements hollowed and injected with struts.

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