Purdue University Professor Fixes Major Flaw In 3D Printing

By: Zach Walton - September 19, 2012

3D printing has come a long way since its humble roots over 20 years ago. The technology has become affordable and people are starting to make some really awesome objects with the technology. Unfortunately, it’s still hampered by a few setbacks. A major flaw is that some objects just don’t have the strength to stay together.

Purdue University professor Bedrich Benes knows how fragile some 3D printed objects can be. He claims to have a “zoo” of broken 3D printed objects strewn about his office. His newest project aims to create new 3D printing software that can find points of stress in an object before it heads to the 3D printer. The software is being co-developed by Benes and Adobe’s Advanced Technology Labs.

The new software isn’t only about making 3D printed structures stronger. Benes says that his software can cut down on weight and cost by 80 percent. It does, however, have one caveat – precision. The software’s main focus is structural stability. Benes says that 3D printing can sacrifice precision in the name of stability. Your 3D printed object can have a precise shape, but it’s still worthless if it falls apart.

For now, the software can only detect grip points on an object and strengthen those parts. I can see this software evolving in the future alongside other 3D printing projects, like housing. It could detect stress points on a house and fix them in the planning stages before the construction begins.

3D printing is becoming more prominent in all of our lives. We need to have software like this to make sure things don’t break where we need them most. A small plastic figurine is fine if it breaks, but it would be a problem if a 3D printed satellite were to break.

Zach Walton

About the Author

Zach WaltonZach Walton is a Writer for WebProNews. He specializes in gaming and technology. Follow him on Twitter, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, and Google+ +Zach Walton

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  • Mark

    The press release talks about how 3D printed objects are fragile and break in the box during shipping. Really? Are we only talking about especially delicate objects that are being made? Seems like a flaw in the object design itself and not 3d printing. Things that I’ve printed out have been hit with a hammer repeatedly and they haven’t broken.

  • derp

    @Mark: “Things that I’ve printed out have been hit with a hammer repeatedly and they haven’t broken.”
    So, either you’ve printed out big, thick solid pieces, flat sheets, or you’re full of shit.
    I’m betting on the latter.

    • Mark

      No, I’m not full of S***. I’ve hammered bearings in to spool spacers (thing:7907). I’ve hammered two halves of this hub together since the bearing fit was too tight (thing:9039). I’ve hammered this puzzle (thing:23279) together because it recommended to print out at .2mm layer height and I printed it out at .36mm and the slope was too stair-stepped to slide like it was designed to. The hammer helped work the pieces down the slope.

      I don’t know if those fall in to “big thick solid pieces” or “flat sheets” in your opinion. But even if they do how does that discount my statement that I’ve hit 3D printed objects with hammers and they haven’t broken? I was saying that because of the press release statement of Objects created using 3-D printing have a common flaw: They are fragile and often fall apart or lose their shape. and You can go online, create something using a 3-D printer and pay $300, only to find that it isn’t strong enough to survive shipping and arrives in more than one piece,
      My point being that I would place those objects in to the category of weak designs and not “3D printing is fragile”. I mean the press release goes on to say that the program only strengthens the object by making some parts thicker in the designed part. It pretty much admits that the design itself is the issue.