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Computer Model Predicts How People Perceive Softness of 3D Printed Objects

By EurekAlert

July 28, 2016

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Disney researchers, in collaboration with colleagues from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Max Planck Institute for Informatics, and Saarland, Comenius, and Harvard universities, have developed a method to predict perceived softness and stiffness of an object.

The method involves a perceptual model for nonlinear elastic objects, and was based on the results of experiments in which volunteers poked at three-dimensionally (3D)-printed materials and compared their feel. The team was able to use that data to accurately predict how objects of various materials and geometries will feel.

By varying the internal structure of the object, it is possible to tailor how an object responds to squeezes and pokes, according to MIT professor Wojciech Matusik. He says the new model can guide this process, so objects produced by different printers using different materials ultimately feel the same.

In developing their model, the researchers took physical measurements of how force deformed 12 sample materials and related them to how 20 people perceived the feel of those materials. The researchers validated these extensions by measuring displacements at various points on a plastic ducky and then testers were asked to palpate the same object and evaluate their feel based on different points.

The researchers presented the model this week at the ACM SIGGRAPH 2016 conference in Anaheim, CA.

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