New Tool Makes 3D Printing Turns Novices into Expert Makers

A new tool can help even the most novice at 3D printing create objects that would ordinarily take even experts hours to design and print.

An international team of researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Interdisciplinary Centre Herzliya in Israel have designed the tool, dubbed Fab Forms, that automatically turns CAD files into a visual model that can be manipulated, altered and printed with a touch of a button.

While the tool requires no knowledge of CAD, advanced users looking to tweak their designs further can launch a traditional CAD program to further refine their designs.

According to the team, eventually the tool can be used by consumers to customize all sorts of products.

“We envision a world where everything you buy can potentially be customised, and technologies such as 3D printing promise that might be cost-effective,” MIT grad student Masha Shugrina said.

They also said that the tool makes sure that the customized product remain able to be manufactured.

“We address the problem of allowing casual users to customize parametric models while maintaining their valid state as 3D-printable functional objects. We define Fab Form as any design representation that lends itself to interactive customization by a novice user, while remaining valid and manufacturable,” the team wrote. “We propose a method to achieve these Fab Form requirements for general parametric designs tagged with a general set of automated validity tests and a small number of parameters exposed to the casual user.”