Solved: Tetrahedral Finite Element Mesh Sculptures

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We’re amazed by Todd Doehring’s Meshagons, which are 3D printable “tetrahedral finite element (FE) mesh sculptures”

Philadelphia-based Doehring has been puzzling over the problem of automatically generating mesh structures from arbitrary objects for many years. More recently he’s applied his skills to generating 3D printable meshagons, which, although similar, must be watertight and otherwise meet general 3D printing constraints. 

After apparently TWO YEARS of work, he’s figured it out. He says: 

The early results were not satisfying from an artistic standpoint. Instead of just 'balls-and-sticks' what I really wanted was a more organic structure with parametric control of edge and joint thicknesses. Also, any method must produce the water-tight manifold surface required for 3-D printing. After much effort (about 2 years work!) I have finally developed a solution using alpha-shapes. It works. I can now generate force-optimized, smooth-manifold FE mesh 'sculpture' for 3-D printing of pretty much any shape (also from fonts) with further applications in engineering, bioengineering, and architecture.

Doehring has not shared his specific code, but he does describe in some detail the lengthy and tortuous exploration he undertook to develop the technique. It involves a number of steps, software tools, custom and modified code. And it’s not fast. Apparently some models took up to 60 hours to complete processing, although he’s looking for optimizations to reduce times down to an “hour or two”. 

So popular has Doehring’s models become that he’s opened an online store to sell a dozen examples generated from his process, ranging from a USD$88 Cube to a USD$800 Wall Panel. 

Via Todd Doehring

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