USA & Canada
USA & Canada
DManD researchers 3D printed the interlocking table in VeroClear, Vero PureWhite and TangoPlus. Photography by Teo Jansen.
Case Study

Unlocking new levels of design.

November 17, 2021

Learn how researchers explore groundbreaking design at a microscopic scale with GrabCAD Voxel Print.

The unique mission of Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), a contemporary university that launched in 2012, is to nurture technically grounded leaders through hands-on learning and technology-based design.


Researchers at SUTD’s Digital Manufacturing and Design Center (DManD) are specifically focused on the intersection of digital design and advanced manufacturing, developing new ideas and methods that combine computational and engineering sciences, industrial design, technology-intensive design, architecture and art.


“There are three major themes in that direction we’re emphasizing,” said Professor Martin Dunn, Associate Provost for Research and Co-Director of SUTD DManD. “One is additive manufacturing with multiple materials, especially soft materials, creating multifunctional components, parts and products. Another is around the 3D nanomanufacturing and the third is 3D digital textiles and composites.”

GrabCAD Voxel Print has the potential to transform traditional product development. We are creating new design syntheses and automation paradigms that integrate creative and technical aspects to exploit this game-changing technology.

DManD researchers explored the structural behavior of traditional timber joinery systems using a custom design, analysis and slicer tools, and the GrabCAD Voxel Print utility. Photography by Teo Jansen.

Exploring designs at the voxel level.

As the team’s research goes deeper into material behavior and new ways of design, they are exploring possibilities beyond predefined digital materials. Using the GrabCAD Voxel Print™ utility on the Stratasys J Series multi-material 3D Printer, DManD researchers create products by manipulating materials and structures at precise, point-by-point locations in space, down to the volumetric pixel, or voxel, level.


“Voxel-controlled 3D printing allows us to create microstructure and macroscopic products at a scale and resolution that’s unprecedented. It’s really driven our work to develop new tools that enable people to design with this rapidly emerging manufacturing capability,” said Dunn.


With GrabCAD Voxel Print, DManD researchers can create entirely new digital materials designed for specific functional or aesthetic needs of very specialized research projects.


“Voxel control technology really changes the way we think about design,” said Sayjel Patel, Research Associate at SUTD DManD. “Now, we can scan textures from the immediate environment, and create textures and microstructures from these images. We can look at properties in terms of touch, acoustics, structural corrugation or thermal properties, allowing us to prototype very quickly a range of design options.”


Researchers create their own computational analysis and design tools, model layer slicer, manipulate attributes voxel by voxel and generate bitmap or PNG files. GrabCAD Voxel Print is the communication tool between the sliced digital data and the 3D printer, producing the 3D models that hold specific properties unachievable any other way.

Multi-scale structure and material design.

DManD researchers used this new method to construct an interlocking table to study the structural behavior of traditional timber joinery systems. Crafting an interlocking table is very challenging, so Sawako Kaijima and her team of researchers, programmed a custom slicer to assign materials layer by layer, 3D printing the joinery systems on the Stratasys J Series using GrabCAD Voxel Print.


“Selective material deposition offers opportunities to design and fabricate objects with heterogeneous properties potentially exhibiting superior functional performance characteristics compared to objects comprised of homogeneous material distributions,” said Patel.


With the custom slicer and GrabCAD Voxel Print, researchers 3D printed the interlocking table with gradients of VeroClear™, Vero PureWhite™ and TangoPlus™.

DManD researchers created multi-material soft-lattice structures for this footwear prototype using a custom design, analysis and slicer tools to spatially control stiffness.
The final 3D printed table is a functional and aesthetically pleasing composition that can withstand structural loads and requires no mechanical fasteners. Photography by Teo Jansen.

“The project is a manifestation of future design work where designers not only create geometry, but also design material at a microscopic scale to achieve better integration of function and aesthetics,” said Dunn.


DManD researchers also created multi-material soft-lattice structures that undergo large nonlinear deformation. The soft lattices have curved components that conform to freeform geometries with spatially-variable thickness and materials. Using another custom slicer to control stiffness and behavior of the material, the researchers were able to materialize the exact soft lattices they desired to optimize performance and design.


“GrabCAD Voxel Print has the potential to transform traditional product development. We are creating new design syntheses and automation paradigms that integrate creative and technical aspects to exploit this game-changing technology,” said Dunn.

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