3D digital modeling is primarily an on-screen activity. One has to finish the entire digital design, sends it to the printer, and waits for several hours to get the physical output printed. Because the user cannot check the design early on, in many cases, the early printed object needs to go through several iterations towards a polished result.
In this work, we propose On-the-Fly Print: a 3D modeling approach that allows the user to design 3D models digitally while having a low-fidelity physical wireframe model printed in parallel. Our system starts printing features as soon as they are created and updates the physical model as needed. Users can quickly check the design in a real usage context by removing the partial physical print from the printer and replacing it afterwards to continue printing.
On the hardware end, we equip an off-the-shelf delta printer with an extended extruder tip, a pair of mist cooling nozzle, and a retractable cutting blade. These tools allows our printer to print, and modify large size wireframe model within minutes to offer physicial preview. We also design a 5 degree-of-freedom (5DOF) motion platform. The printer can therefore incrementally print new design to reflect changes happens in the digital modeling software.
On the software end, we develop a Rhino CAD plugin that monitor 3D primitive creations, slice new primitives and schedule printing order, all automatically. Our software can also solve potential printing collisions, and calculate optimal printing angles without user's intervention.
With our current system, we can design and print an aircraft model within 10 minutes. The result of this design process, is not just a physical privew, but a digital design that has already been checked in-situ.