Courtesy of Cornell University

Cornell researchers have developed a new technology that combines 3-D printing and augmented reality.

February 25, 2018

Cornell Researchers Develop New 3-D Printing Technology

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The Robotic Modeling Assistant helps mend the gap between humans and robots by combining 3-D printing with augmented reality. This technology is the product of a collaboration between Cornell and other universities.

“This is the most complicated project I’ve worked on so far, because there are so many complex subsystems that we have to integrate,” said Huaishu Peng grad, project leader. “We spent about a year and a half to get to the current stage. But we are still refining the system, and hope to get some real users trying the system in the near future.”

According to Peng’s website, RoMa is capable of printing on an object’s backside if the designer is working on the front side. When the designer makes changes to the design, RoMA knows to stop working and then automatically recomputes to account for the changes.

According to the website, augmented reality is based on a view of a real physical environment that is “augmented” when a computer incorporates additional sensory elements. A.R. alters the users’ perception of their current reality. 3-D printing is the process of creating physical objects based on 3-D digital model.

RoMA uses these two concepts to create an interactive fabrication system. Designers can draw blueprints for their structures in the physical space, rather than on a computer screen. While the designer wears an A.R. headset and uses hand controllers, the robotic arm prints the design.

Peng called this interactive process “in-situ fabrication.”

The research team will present their paper on RoMA at The Human Computer Interaction conference this April in Montreal. Peng, along with students and professors, will have the opportunity to showcase their research, as well as attend workshops and other opportunities for networking and discussion.

“For now, one of the biggest benefits of RoMA is that it allows designers to check the physical print at a very early stage in the design process,” Peng said. “This is instead of creating the first design, waiting several hours for a 3-D printer to print the model, and then trying out the size and dimension.”

According to Peng, RoMA will be used as an “intellectual design assistant” used to create “furniture and other fast printed physical items in a real environment.”

“I can foresee many more potential extensions of the project,” Peng said. “I’m excited for the robotic 3-D printer to become smarter. The robot will not just strictly follow the user, but will be able to understand the user’s design intention, and able to co-design with the human.”