Researchers at Purdue University, are working with Advanced Technology Labs of Adobe Inc., San Jose, to develop a computer program that strengthens objects created using 3D printing. Bedrich Benes, an associate professor of computer graphics at Purdue, says the software targets online users who pay $300 to create an object with 3D printers, only to have it break along areas of high stress during shipping.
The software strengthens objects by making structural elements thicker or adding struts. It also reduces the stresses on structural elements by hollowing-out overweight areas.
The software first uses mesh-based simulation to identify“grip positions,” where users are likely to grasp the object. The solver requires less computing power than traditional FEA packages, which are used in high-precision work such as designing jet-engine turbine blades.
“The software not only makes objects lighter, it also cuts part costs by 80%,” says Benes.
In the future, researchers plan to write software that will help users better understand how structural strength is affected by 3D printed objects’ layered composition. They might also expand the software algorithms to include printed models with moving parts.