Connecting dots for digital learning and teaching

New MIT software makes it easier to design complex 3D printed objects

penFab makes it simpler to create objects that range in stiffness and color. It is inspired by programs like Pixar’s RenderMan.


Most consumer 3D printers print in hard plastic. That’s suitable for creating cups and little figurines, but many objects can’t be printed because they require different materials. More complex objects that can be printed in plastic are very difficult to create with existing design programs because of the level of detail required.

On Friday, MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab researchers will reveal OpenFab, a new software program meant to make it drastically easier to design complex objects for 3D printing. Inspired by Pixar’s RenderMan software, OpenFab uses a new programming language to allow creators to modify the surface and composition of their project with quick commands instead of redoing the entire design by hand. Objects can be squishy and come in a range of colors — features that are difficult to create with current CAD programs.

MIT 3D printed foam rhinoceros

“In traditional manufacturing most objects are composed of multiple parts made out…

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“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.” -------- Chinese Wisdom "Games are the most elevated form of investigation." -------- Albert Einstein
"I'm calling for investments in educational technology that will help create digital tutors that are as effective as personal tutors, educational software as compelling as the best video game," President Barack Obama said while touring a tech-focused Boston school (year 2011).
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