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A Series of Tubes: Adding Interactivity to 3D Prints Using Internal Pipes

Valkyrie Savage, Ryan Schmidt, Tovi Grossman, George Fitzmaurice, Björn Hartmann

ACM Symposium on User Interface Software & Technology

A Series of Tubes: Adding Interactivity to 3D Prints Using Internal Pipes (3:38 min.)

Video title (x:xx min.)


3D printers offer extraordinary flexibility for prototyping theshape and mechanical function of objects. We investigatehow 3D models can be modified to facilitate the creation ofinteractive objects that offer dynamic input and output. Weintroduce a general technique for supporting the rapid prototypingof interactivity by removing interior material from3D models to form internal pipes. We describe this new designspace of pipes for interaction design, where variablesinclude openings, path constraints, topologies, and insertedmedia. We then present PipeDream, a tool for routing suchpipes through the interior of 3D models, integrated withina 3D modeling program. We use two distinct routing algorithms.The first has users to define pipes’ terminals, and usespath routing and physics-based simulation to minimize pipebending energy, allowing easy insertion of media post-print.The second allows users to supply a desired internal shapeto which we fit a pipe route: for this we developed a novelgraph-based routing algorithm. We present several prototypescreated using our tool to show its flexibility and potential.

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Project Gadget explores experience design for the Internet of Things. In particular, it examines new authoring tools and concepts that enable designers to focus on designing behaviours, not objects. This project is led by the User Interface research group, part of Autodesk Research. Contact for more information.


Meshmixer is a prototype design tool based on high-resolution dynamic triangle meshes. We are exploring the new capabilities of this surface representation for interactive design and fabrication, in the context of a practical system we release to the public. For more information about the project, visit the meshmixer website.


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