OpenFab: A Programmable Pipeline for Multi-Material Fabrication

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.

MIT has developed 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. They 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. They demonstrate it on a variety of multi-material objects.

A procedurally-defined foam material makes the bunny and bear squishy. Color and squishiness vary procedurally over the models.

Openfab was presented at Siggraph 2013

Multimaterial 3d printers can produce a 0.4 cubic meter volume with 600 dpi

OpenFab highlights

• First programmable pipeline for fabrication
• New programming model
• Domain-specific language
• Scalable architecture

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