3D printing techniques have several restrictions. The workspace is usually very small, the printing process is time consuming, and, in order to produce a high quality reproduction, the input geometry has to satisfy both geometric and static constraints. A lot of effort has been focused in recent years to overcoming these limitations. Several methods have been proposed to overcome workspace limitations, to change the appearance properties or to increase the physical robustness of the printed object. However, 3D fabrication is still perceived as an expensive procedure for the mass market. A radically different philosophy for shape fabrication is to approximate a given shape by relying on cheaper technologies that scale for mass production.
The potential of 3D printing goes far beyond rapid prototyping. We can use printing technologies to create custom microstructures with specific mechanical properties or to create functional artifacts that can be used to create objects through mold injections.
FlexMolds is a novel computational approach to automatically design flexible, reusable molds that, once 3D printed, allow us to physically fabricate, by means of liquid casting, multiple copies of complex shapes with rich surface details and complex topology.
Elastic Textures are a set of parametric, tileable, printable, cubic patterns achieving a broad range of elastic material properties: the softest pattern is over a thousand times softer than the stiffest, and the Poisson ratios range from below zero to nearly 0.5.
Field Aligned Mesh Joinery is an innovative method to produce illustrative shape approximations suitable for fabrication.