Fujitsu has discovered a very interesting technique that we think will be critical to the growth of 3D printing in the future: it's a method of searching libraries of 3D models for similar shapes.
Currently anyone who's visited a current 3D model repository is faced with a difficult challenge: finding the right 3D model. You typically must search based on textual keywords - and hope those who submitted or curated the repository used the same keywords you searched with.
This problem will only get spectacularly worse as the size of repositories continues to increase.
But now Fujitsu's new tech permits "search by shape". Basically the "keyword" shape is decomposed into distinguishing components and then the repository is searched for items having similarly arranged components. They say:
With the new technology, 10,000 3D CAD models were automatically segmented into approximately 100,000 parts, and the 3D CAD models containing similar shapes to a specified search key could be retrieved in roughly three seconds, making it practical for real-world use.
It may be that this technology or similar approaches may be the key to making large 3D model repositories effective.