Continuous Property Gradation for Multi-Material 3D-Printed Objects

Altenhofen, C.
Luu, T.H.
Grasser, T.
Dennstädt, M.
Mueller-Roemer, J.S.
Weber, D.
Stork, A.
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University of Texas at Austin

Modern AM processes allow for printing multiple materials. The resulting objects can be stiff/dense in some areas and soft/porous in others, resulting in distinct physical properties. However, modeling material gradients is still tedious with current approaches, especially when smooth transitions are required. Current approaches can be distinguished into a) NURBS-BReps-based and b) voxel-based. In case of NURBS-BReps, discrete material distributions can be modeled by manually introducing separate shells inside the object; smooth gradation can only be approximated in discrete steps. For voxel representations, gradation is discrete by design and comes along with an approximation error. In addition, interacting on a per-voxel basis is tedious for the designer/engineer. We present a novel approach for representing material gradients in volumetric models using subdivision schemes, supporting continuity and providing elegant ways for interactive modeling of locally varying properties. Additionally, the continuous volumetric representation allows for on-demand sampling at any resolution required by the 3D printer.