By Kyle Vanhemert | WIRED
Seeing a 3-D printer in action for the first time can be kind of disappointing. Objects don’t just materialize instantly like you might expect. Instead, they get pooped out layer by layer, a process so slow that it isn’t uncommon to leave print jobs running overnight. A group of German researchers, however, have come up with a clever way of speeding things up: 3-D printing wireframes instead of full objects.
The software, WirePrint, was created by a team from the Hasso Plattner Institute, in Berlin, in collaboration with researchers from Cornell University. The idea is to make rapid prototyping more rapid. Rather than fabricating a complete object, the software generates a full-size wire frame mesh, which the printer produces by extruding filament in 3-D space. That preview object can can give designers a sense of form and ergonomic fit while being up to ten times faster to create.
In addition to giving designers a quicker, less materials-intensive way to iterate on a basic form, it’s also more fun to watch in action. We’re used to seeing wireframes on computer screens, but it’s mesmerizing to watch one take physical form segment by segment. In a way, at least from the perspective of an observer, the approach gets us closer to that central magic of 3-D printing: seeing something appear from nothing.
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