The Future of 3D Design: Exploring an AI-Driven Workflow for Physical Product Creation

By on June 7th, 2023 in Ideas, news

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3D printing a fully AI-designed action figure [Source: Reddit]

A Reddit contributor described an astonishing 3D print workflow that just might become a normal approach in the future.

LegbootLegit decided to fully leverage a series of new AI tools to develop a physical product, using almost no human effort. The results are quite startling and suggest a very different future for 3D design.

LegbootLegit explains the project:

“For this project, I employed several different AI systems and models to create the concept from start to finish. I tried to let AI have as much influence as I could, imagining a future where autonomous factories churn out iterative garbage, collecting human feedback to adjust its output. So inspiring.”

DALL-E rendering of an AI-designed action figure [Source: Reddit]

At a high level, the workflow went something like this:

  • Ask ChatGPT to design the specifications for an action figure concept
  • The specifications were used to generate an image of said concept using DALL-E, which transforms text into relevant images
  • The image was transformed into a 3D model using PIFuHD, an open source utility that can extrapolate a 3D object from a 2D image
  • The 3D model was printed and painted according to the DALL-E image
  • MidJourney and DALL-E text to image generators were used to generate packaging
ChatGPT designs an action figure [Source: Reddit]

Amusingly, ChatGPT correctly interpreted Legbootlegit’s intentions and in the design response referred to them as a “mysterious manufacturer with questionable ethics”. Like most ChatGPT responses, it produced a pretty decent product design spec.

A fully AI-designed, built and packaged action figure [Source: Reddit]

The result of this workflow was a rough, but credible action figure matching the original intent.

The product is likely not something you’d actually want to sell, but there’s some deep implications here.

LegbootLegit was able to produce a near-usable commercial product without:

  • Expensive software
  • 3D design tool experience
  • Product design experience
  • No 3D printer (borrowed)
  • Months of time
  • Any other human assistance

This approach was obviously an experiment, and it was likely rough to execute: bits and pieces had to be cut and pasted between steps, as well as some iteration. However, it did ultimately work.

The Future of 3D Design and Print

Now imagine a future tool that seamlessly puts all those steps together in an integrated fashion. With such a tool one could simply ask for a product and it would be created.


Such a tool could also be potentially integrated directly with a 3D printer, so that not only could the design be developed automatically, but the product’s 3D model could be dispatched for production, either locally or through a cloud service. Similarly, the printing of the packaging could also be sent to a suitable service.

Many years ago when the public was first exposed to inexpensive desktop 3D printing the talk was about having your own “Star Trek replicator”.

That was nonsense, of course.

Or was it?

Via Reddit

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!

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