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.