A team of researchers at the University of Technology Vienna, Austria, and the RWTH Aachen University, Germany, have developed a method to 3D print objects with impressive geometrical properties.
Creating a mathematical optimisation process, that automatically calculates an object’s geometric form and structure based on desired data input, the team led by Przemyslaw Musialski from the Department for Computer Graphics and Algorithms 3D printed various “impossible” objects. Among these objects are a plastic fish that floats just below the water’s surface and a spinning top featuring a turtle.
In order to achieve the necessary geometrical properties, the software automatically calculates the exact structure including hollow spaces and wall thickness. The rotation axis of the turtle had to be exactly adjusted in order to use is as a spinning top, while the fish has to have the exact structure and size to be floating in this position.
One of the most baffling objects 3D printed by the team is an oddly shaped bottle that tipps over when filled with water but stays in place when filled with alcohol. While the simple explanation is the lower density of alcohol compared to water, the challenging part is to create a structure actually behaving this way. The developed software not only provides the data for the external shape of the object to be printed, but also the shape of the hollow space on the inside, in order to achieve the desired properties.
“Our method has a whole range of advantages,” Musialski explains. “It is fast, as the calculation is completed within seconds, it is resilient to errors, and as we proved, it can be used for many different optimisation processes compared to other methods.”
Eventually, so the researchers believe, people would be able to create technical spare parts or ornamental parts, for example, on their 3D printers at home, as the software ensures that the objects will also feature the necessary physical properties.
Check out the short video below to see the printed objects (German):
Przemyslaw Musialski was awarded the Austrian Computer Graphics Award in the category “Best Technical Solution” for the development of this method.