MIT tool could help you personalize your own 3D printed creations

Credit: MIT researchers.

3D printing has become increasingly popular, but customizing those 3D prints can be a real headache.

Why? Because to change a model, you usually need some high-level design software and skills.

However, MIT researchers have come up with an amazing solution: Style2Fab, a tool that allows even complete beginners to customize 3D prints easily.

People love downloading and printing cool objects from online platforms that offer free 3D models.

But let’s say you want to add a personal touch—maybe put your initials on it, or make it match your home decor.

That’s when things get tricky. The software for doing this can be complicated and costly. Plus, if you mess up the design, the object might not work as it should.

Style2Fab is like having a design assistant at your fingertips.

You don’t need to be an expert. The tool uses advanced technology, called AI, to figure out which parts of your object must remain the same to work properly and which parts you can jazz up.

All you need to do is describe what you want, like “I want a plant pot that looks like it’s from a Japanese garden.” Style2Fab takes care of the rest, making sure your design changes won’t affect the object’s purpose. It’s smart and keeps you from making mistakes!

Faraz Faruqi, who led the project, said Style2Fab is also a learning tool. Beginners can safely explore and experiment. You’re not just adding flair to your 3D model; you’re also learning about design principles as you go along.

The system uses machine learning—a type of AI that can teach itself—to look at a 3D model and break it down into different parts. Some parts are “functional,” meaning they are essential for the object to work, and others are “aesthetic,” meaning they just make the object look good. Once the tool breaks down the model, you can add your personal touch to the aesthetic parts while keeping the functional parts the same.

In a study, both newbie and experienced makers found Style2Fab helpful. For beginners, it was an easy introduction to 3D design. For experts, it made their work faster and let them play around with more creative options.

Style2Fab isn’t just for making personalized trinkets. It has a real-world impact too. For example, medical professionals could use it to create custom assistive devices that patients will actually want to use. Imagine a thumb splint that not only helps your thumb heal but also matches your outfit!

The researchers want to make Style2Fab even better. They plan to add features that consider how changing the shape of an object might affect its strength or other physical properties.

They’re also working on letting users design their own objects from scratch, not just modify existing ones. A collaboration with Google is also in the pipeline.

So, whether you’re a 3D printing pro or a complete newbie, Style2Fab is here to make the design process a whole lot easier and more fun!

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