Here is a fascinating project and paper presented for SIGGRAPH 2013 by the MIT CSAIL team of Kiril Vidimče, Szu-Po Wang, Jonathan Ragan-Kelley, and Wojciech Matusik. OpenFab: A Programmable Pipeline for Multi-Material Fabrication:
3D printing hardware is rapidly scaling up to output continuous mixtures of multiple materials at increasing resolution over ever larger print volumes. This poses an enormous computational challenge: large high-resolution prints comprise trillions of voxels and petabytes of data and simply modeling and describing the input with spatially varying material mixtures at this scale is challenging. Existing 3D printing software is insufficient; in particular, most software is designed to support only a few million primitives, with discrete material choices per object.
We present OpenFab, a programmable pipeline for synthesis of multi-material 3D printed objects that is inspired by RenderMan and modern GPU pipelines. The pipeline supports procedural evaluation of geometric detail and material composition, using shader-like fablets, allowing models to be specified easily and efficiently. We describe a streaming architecture for OpenFab; only a small fraction of the final volume is stored in memory and output is fed to the printer with little startup delay. We demonstrate it on a variety of multi-material objects….
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