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….
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