D-Coil, a research project, tool, and digital modeling approach from Huaishu Peng and François Guimbretière of Cornell University Information Science, and Amit Zoran of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, uses wax coiling to bring a thoroughly amazing spin to the design and execution of 3D prints.
Users can define a shape to extrude, and then using a hand-held and actuated extruder which guides the motion of the hand and arm, an object is extruded using wax while it simultaneously creates a 3D printable digital model in Rhino software.
The paper the team wrote on the subject, D-Coil: A Hands-on Approach to Digital 3D Models Design, describes their method of building a system which simplifies the use of CAD systems without having “mastery of complex construction commands.”
In one example of the system in use, a cylinder is built using the D-Coil tool to select a center point within a circle to serve as a starting point for the process. The tool then leads the user through the process and coil layers wax which ultimately become a finished object.
“The user first defines the digital base shape using the tool as a 3D pointer,” they say. “This information is used by the system to create a digital model and control the actuated extrusion mechanism to create the shape in wax. This will ensure that the digital model created remains accurate and consistent.”
The additive approach is also supported by a subtractive process which makes use of a digitally actuated cutter to remove material from an object and the resultant file. The team says that by adding a 6DOF (or six degrees of freedom) mouse, objects can be scaled, rotated, or bent to create a full range of shapes which are “often difficult for novices to produce in standard CAD software.”
According to the paper, the digital model is essentially a succession of 2D profiles which map out a “series of wax ribbons in the real world.”
At this stage, the device does pose limitations on design output, but it also points the way to a future where like systems might one day bring CAD modeling to users with no formal training in 3D design.
The work was presented at the CHI conference, an event which draws some of the leading researchers and practitioners in the field of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) from businesses and universities to share their findings and innovations regarding the way humans interact with digital technologies.
Unlike D-Coil, 3D printing pens like 3Doodler don’t focus on creating a digital model and it requires skill to create accurate geometries. But the researchers say that by actuating the extrusion mechanism, D-Coil can help users create accurate shapes with little or no experience in art or CAD modeling.
The extruder heats up to 78°C within a minute and maintains the temperature while extruding at variable speeds, and the developers say that the wax is malleable but not liquid and solidifies quickly following extrusion by the use of compressed air blown on the extruded wax from four jets located at the corners of the extrusion head.
The work was supported in part by an NSF Award, ISS, and Microsoft Research.
What do you think of the D-Coil system? Can you see a future for this sort of tool among designers and novices in 3D design and printing? Let us know in the D-Coil Wax Printing forum thread on 3DPB.com.