FuseFab: A Stereolithography-based 3D Printing Technique Leveraging Daily Objects as Molds in Personal Digital Fabrication

Project: Research

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3D printing technology has significantly boosted personal fabrication in the past decade.However, printing 3D objects that tightly fit with existing real-world artifacts remainschallenging for non-expert users. This is because physical objects often have complexgeometric structures (e.g., an internal screw thread), which are difficult to capture accuratelyeven with state-of-the-art 3D scanning technologies. These factors result in a tedious processfor producing new objects that well fit existing objects. One possible solution is to leveragean existing object as a mold so that the printing material in contact with the object cannaturally conform to its shape. However, this feature does not exist in the currently available3D printers due to the hardware constraints and the usage of solid materials.In this project, we propose FuseFab, a new stereolithography-based (SLA) 3D printingtechnique, to leverage the usage of liquid resin, allowing for the direct insertion of physicalobjects during the printing process, without the requirement of tolerance adjustment. Theresults of our preliminary experiments have demonstrated the feasibility of inserting physicalobjects into liquid resin to fabricate new parts fitting with the inserted objects. For example,to print an internal screw thread, the screw can be directly placed into the resin, thus theprinted thread can match tightly with the shape of the inserted screw, enabling easy assembly.We will design the FuseFab software interface to allow intuitive user specification of theobject insertion, and control the hardware modified upon the current SLA 3D printers, forinserting physical objects and performing accurate fabrication. Key challenges includedesigning intuitive interaction for users to specify the object insertion, parsing the 3D models,and improving the hardware setup of current SLA 3D printers, to adapt the geometricstructures of physical objects in the modeling and printing process.Upon finishing the FuseFab system, we will evaluate its ease of learning, ease of use, andsupport in creativity. To achieve the maximum results, we will periodically seek for advicesand collaborations from an expert panel, including human-computer-interaction expert Dr.Shengdong Zhao (National University of Singapore), computer-graphics expert Dr. HongboFu and 3D-printing expert Mr. Tobias Klein (both from School of Creative Media, CityUniversity of Hong Kong).We aim to publish our results and insights in leading academic venues on human computerinteraction and digital fabrication, including SIGCHI, UIST, TOCHI, and Rapid PrototypingJournal. We believe, with the new capability of embracing existing artifacts in the printingprocess to fabricate new well-fitting objects, FuseFab will open new possibilities for personalfabrication, and will be useful in various domains, including mechanical design, fashiondesign, biomechanics, etc.


Project number9048071
Grant typeECS
Effective start/end date1/01/1714/12/20

    Research areas

  • Digital Fabrication , 3D Printing , Stereolithography , Human Computer Interaction , Rapid Prototyping