Check out Todd Doehring fascinating journey to solve a process for generating “Meshagons” using tools he uses more typically for creating models from MRI and CT scans! Meshagons – tetrahedral finite element (FE) mesh sculptures. Via Fabbalo.
Meshagons are tetrahedral finite element (FE) mesh sculptures, to my knowledge, the first ever. For the last 15+ years I have been writing and developing code to mesh tissues and structures mostly from 3-D MRI and CT scans. Then I had an idea (it’s rare), “What if I could actually print a 3-D FE mesh… that would be interesting!” 3-D printing technologies were then (and certainly are now) rapidly evolving and it looked like printing a mesh might actually be possible.
At first, I thought “this will be easy…” but it turned out to be a difficult problem. The basic idea was to convert my wire-frame meshes (nodes, elements) by ‘thickening’ to suit for 3-D printing.
I explored many concepts such as molecular modeling (see below for details). The early results were not satisfying from an artistic standpoint. Instead of just ‘balls-and-sticks’ what I really wanted was a more organic structure with parametric control of edge and joint thicknesses. Also, any method must produce the water-tight manifold surface required for 3-D printing. After much effort (about 2 years work!) I have finally developed a solution using alpha-shapes. It works. I can now generate force-optimized, smooth-manifold FE mesh ‘sculpture’ for 3-D printing of pretty much any shape (also from fonts) with further applications in engineering, bioengineering, and architecture.
There are still some issues. Generating a meshagon is very computationally intensive (see details below). A larger mesh can take a week to compute on my (somewhat dated) Intel Quad Q6600 4-core system. However, the current code is quite parallel-friendly and there is plenty of room for improvements and new ideas. If you are interested feel free to email me….
Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!
Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!
The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! We also offer the LulzBot TAZ – Open source 3D Printer and the Printrbot Simple Metal 3D Printer in our store. If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!