How to Make the Biggest 3D Prints from the Smallest 3D Printers

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Skylar Tibbits of 4D printing fame has developed a system he has termed Hyperform to create the longest possible 3D printed chain from a relatively small 3D Printer.

Using the Formlabs 3D printer and a process where a chain is printed in a Hilbert Curve within the build area to print the largest possible object (once expanded) from the space available.  

Printing a very long chain is a proof of concept for what could become a more efficient way to program large objects into a 3D Printer.  For instance, if you wanted to 3D print a chain mail sweater (you know you do) you could design the interlocking parts to collapse or fold into the smallest possible space using a physics based algorithm.

By collapsing an item into the smallest possible bounding box you can increase the density of the print and there for make the item more economical to 3D Print.  A long chain unfurled would cost a lot more than a chain compressed to as small as possible. especially if it hit the Shapeways density discount where models that have greater than 10% density (material volume divided by bounding box volume), volume above the first 20cm3 is calculated with a 50% discount.

Maybe it is time to start compressing your designs into the smallest, densest possible form to make the most of the economy of 3D printing too (but don’t make them too close or the parts will fuse together and you will have a very dense, unfoldable model.  

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