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Making use of augmented reality in 3-D printing

Photo Credit: Cornell University
New device lets designs to be made in physical space, instead of on computer screens, as they are printed as three-dimensional objects in real-time
by TR Pakistan

Researchers at Cornell University have come up with a device that combines augmented reality (AR) and 3-D printing technologies, enabling designs to be made in physical space as they are printed as three dimensional objects in real-time.

In 3-D printing, a digital model is first prepared on a computer screen, and then printed as a physical object. Augmented reality adds multiple sensory modalities such as graphics, sounds, haptic feedback, and smell to a physical, real-world environment to the designing process.

The device called Robotic Modeling Assistant (RoMA) comprises an AR headset with hand controllers. The designers need to put on the headset and hand controllers, and they’re all set to use AR features. A separate robotic arm, meanwhile, prints the object in real-time.

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Cornell University doctoral student Huaishu Peng, part of the team that worked on RoMA, has said in a statement that instead of designing 3-D models on the computer screen, users can now get the opportunity to work in conjunction with the robot.

“The designer has this tangible feedback early in the design phase and can make adjustments,” Peng says, adding, “The combination of AR and robot allows the designer to use the printed part to design their next features. The designer can even directly design and print on an existing physical object. This tightens the interface between design and fabrication.”

Further, Peng notes that this technology can be beneficial in making furniture designs. “There is a very promising future for the combination of augmented reality and 3-D printing,” he says.

RoMA improves print quality and designer’s control over the process by allowing them to work together with the robotic arm. If the designer is working on the front of the object, the robotic arm learns how to print the back of the object. It can automatically re-compute changes made by the designer in real-time. 

Researchers from Cornell University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Central Florida, and the Hasso Plattner Institute in Germany will be presenting their paper on RoMA at the Human Computer Interaction conference being held in Montreal, Canada, later this year.


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