Design-to-Fabricate: Maker Hardware Requires Maker Software

Ryan Schmidt, Matt Ratto

IEEE Computer Graphics & Applications


As a result of the increasing availability of consumer-level 3D printing devices, the audience for 3D design tools has grown considerably. However, current 3D design tools are ill-suited for these users, both in that they have steep learning curves, and in that they do not take into account that the end goal is a physical object rather than a digital model. In this article we propose that a new class of “maker” level design tools are needed to accompany this new commodity hardware. We provide several examples of recent “maker” tools, which achieve accessibility primarily by constraining functionality. We then describe recent developments in the meshmixer project, where we are building a tool which attempts to provide both accessibility and expressive power, by leveraging recent computer graphics research in geometry processing. We discuss our positive experiences with several 3D design/print workshops, and present several “designtofabricate”problems that we are currently exploring.

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