MIT’s OpenFab is a system designed to make 3d printing easier and cheaper – and it uses a new programming language to create flexible objects with varying materiality. Set to be launched at the end of the month at the SIGGRAPH Conference in California, the new software will allow designers to create objects that vary in colors and can be squishy at one end and stiff and the other.

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Many industrial designs can’t be 3d-printed for one simple reason – they require different materials. Current CAD programs are not particularly good at working with varying colors and flexible materials, and they have difficulty processing and storing large files. MIT’s team developed OpenFab as a programmable “pipeline” architecture to deal with the problems of manufacturing high-resolution models with detailed information without producing a huge amount of data. The program was inspired by RenderMan, which is used to create imagery for movies.

The OpenFab team has made several prototype objects that demonstrate the efficiency of the new technology – flexible teddy bears, a marble table, and a butterfly encased in a material resembling amber. The OpenFab file used to manufacture the butterfly is much smaller than it would be if it were made using other design software.

+ MIT OpenFab

Via Fast Company