Design of 3D Printable Mechanical Components for End-User Customization

The objective of this project is to develop a suite of algorithms to support experts in creating 3D printable mechanisms that can be customized by unskilled end users. 

Over the past decade, 3D printing technology has flourished, increasing precision and speed of printing, while expanding the range of materials, and gradually bringing down cost. The vision of the world where powerful multi-material 3D printers are found in every supermarket is not far off. Research into 3D printing technology has also started addressing the problem of printing conductive materials and circuitry. In light of this emerging customizable manufacturing, it is tempting to envision regular people having the power to customize and manufacture objects that are especially made for them. In the world where robotics are a ubiquitous part of everyday life, customizing personal robots for functionality, performance and even aesthetics must be made possible.

Today, 3D printable models are not easily customizable by end consumers, and designing mechanisms that can be modified without breaking their functionality is a difficult task not well supported by modern engineering tools. Even in the simpler case of purely geometric design, creating customizable digital designs is difficult. For instance, most modifiable designs today are created in CAD systems or similar, and are only intended for modification by the expert. Casual users not only do not have a grasp of the appropriate software to make modifications, but even with simple software could easily introduce mechanical failures that could only be fixed by the expert.

This project addresses the problem of creating end-user-customizable functional mechanisms. The end goal of this project is failure-proof customizable robots created by experts with the aid of algorithms developed as a part of this research. The obvious extension of this project is extending customizability to the level of software and electrical components. Please note that this work is been prepared for publication and no details about the method can be provided.