The goal of this research is to provide a "clean interface" between design and fabrication for mechanical parts to be made by Solid Freeform Fabrication using Three Dimensional Printing as a prototypical process. The "clean interface" will be modeled after the practice in the design of integrated circuits. It is predicated upon the availability to the designer of representations capable of expressing a wide range of fabrication capability of Three Dimensional Printing, coupled with the ability to ensure that designs created with this representation are manufacturable. This program will investigate: (1) representations for parts with local composition control, a capability not now addressed by existing representations; (2) design rules which capture in simple terms the limitations of the fabrication technology, such as limitations on variation of local composition; (3) simulations for aspects of process technology which cannot be captured as simple design rules, for example for the surface texture resulting from layering; and (4) the derivation of instructions for a Three Dimensional Printing machine from comprehensive part representations, which include local variation in composition. This program will also operate an interactive communication link to designers in order to test hypotheses about how designers use the tools provided to them. Parts will be fabricated based on remote input from designers at sites in industry, academic research programs, and in an undergraduate course in manufacturing. A successful "clean interface" between design and fabrication will allow the designer of parts to be made by Solid Freeform Fabrication to send information to the fabricator and to get back a good part without any discussion with the fabricator. This clean separation between design and fabrication for mechanical parts will: (1) facilitate distributed design and fabrication; (2) lower the barriers to entry for users of Solid Freeform Fabrication; and (3) empower designers to make more co mplete use of the flexibility of Solid Freeform Fabrication processes, while guaranteeing manufacturable designs.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Civil, Mechanical, and Manufacturing Innovation (CMMI)
Application #
Program Officer
George A. Hazelrigg
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
United States
Zip Code