A group of researchers at Cornell University developed a 3d printing system that creates objects as they're being designed and modified in real time.
The team focused on being able to make changes to their designs in real time and have those changes be reflected in a single 3d print, instead of the current method of creating entire objects and then making improvements after the fact.
"The 'on-the-fly' 3D printing setup outputs the design that's being worked on as its created in a CAD file, allowing the user to pause for testing, measurements or to change the model that's still in progress," Engadget writes.
The process works by creating a base object from the 3d design, allowing the creator to judge the overall base structure and make refinements to the complete object as it's being printed. Interestingly, the team was able to develop a capability to erase mistakes made in the design previously by having the printer cut off the unwanted pieces, pause itself, and then restart based on the new design.
"Well, the device has a cutter that removes those pieces and the printer's base is aligned by magnets," the magazine writes. "The magnets make it removable for those tests and measurements, but ensures you put it back in the right place to resume construction. A CAD plug-in designs the wire frame version of the object and while printing can continue while changes are being made to the digital file, the system will pause when it gets to that area until any tweaks are finished."