Design Engineering

Cornell researchers use augmented reality to better 3D print objects



The team has spent time perfecting an interactive technique that allows a designer use an AR headset with hand controllers to design while a robot 3D prints the parts.

Cornell AR 3D printingCornell researchers are leveraging the power of augmented reality (AR) to make 3D printing even more efficient.

This new technology allows for a designer to design in the real physical space while a robotic arm rapidly 3D prints the design.

“Instead of designing 3D models on the computer screen, we wanted to give users the opportunity to work in conjunction with the robot. We call it in-situ fabrication,” said Huaishu Peng, Cornell information science PhD student.

This is done by providing a designer with an AR headset with hand controllers, where they begin to design features in the physical world rather than on screen. As soon as a design feature is completed, the robotic arm prints it.


“The cool thing is that the robot can print the users’ design at the same time and place. The designer has this tangible feedback early in the design phase and can make adjustments,” said Peng.  He adds that this AR/robot combination makes it even easier for the designer to add design features to the already-printed part, tightening the process between design and fabrication.

The team has spent time perfecting an interactive technique that allows the robot and the designer to work together. For example, the system needs to know to print in the back of the object if the designer is working in the front and also automatically recomputing the changes being made in real time.

“In the future, we expect a robotic arm can be an intelligent design assistant,” said Peng.

Peng and his fellow collaborators Jimmy Briggs (Cornell CS masters), Cheng-Yao Wang (Cornell CS PhD), Francois Guimbretiere (Cornell Information Science Professor), Joseph Kider (UCF), Stefanie Mueller (MIT), and Patrick Baudisch (HPI Germany) will present their paper on RoMA at the Human Computer Interaction (CHI) conference in May.


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