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MIT Research News

January 2, 2019

Customizing computer-aided design

System breaks down complex designs into easily modifiable shapes for custom manufacturing and 3-D printing.

Rob Matheson | MIT News Office

MIT researchers have devised a technique that “reverse engineers” complex 3-D computer-aided design (CAD) models, making them far easier for users to customize for manufacturing and 3-D printing applications.

Nearly all commercial products start as a CAD file, a 2-D or 3-D model with the product’s design specifications. One method that’s widely used to represent today’s 3-D models is constructive solid geometry (CSG), a technique where numerous basic shapes, or “primitives,” with a few adjustable parameters can be assembled in various ways to form a single object. When finalized, the compiled digital object is converted to a mesh of 3-D triangles that defines the object’s shape. These meshes are used as input for many applications, including 3-D printing and virtual simulation.