WirePrint is 3D printing software that allows your 3D printer to build ultra high-speed previews of models in a fraction of the time that a traditional print would take. The low-fi fabrication process instructs your 3D printer to extrude filament into 3D space rather than building a solid model up layer by layer.
The WirePrint process was created by German engineering student Stephanie Mueller and her team at Hasso Plattner Institute who collaborated with Cornell University on the project. HPI is the only university in Germany offering a degree in IT Systems Engineering and via its Open HPI internet education platform they offer free online courses in information technology to anyone.
A WirePrint replaces the standard layer build of a typical 3D print with a wireframe mesh that mimics the object in exact shape, scale and dimension. However with this process a print that takes two hours will be complete in less than fifteen minutes. This is ideal for verifying ergonomics or making sure a prototyped piece will fit with a larger component.
While the process was optimised to work on a delta-style 3D printer, it will still work on Cartesian-based printers, just not as quickly. You can see the build process in action on this video:
The process was developed in order to give product designers more options when rapid prototyping. Typical 3D prints are going to take several hours, giving designers a new prototype about once a day. However when using low-fi- fabrication your print times will be reduced by a factor of ten. This allows designers to try out new ideas quickly, and allowing them to have more than one 3D printed prototype within a single day.
The process can create several different styles and varieties of mesh for a model, and depending on the shape of the object being printed, strength and print speed may vary from style to style. Faster meshes will be less sturdy, while a more complex mesh pattern will take longer but be more stable. The mesh can also be sealed by applying a coat of glue to the model, or you can create a hybrid low-fi fabrication by combining WirePrint with traditional 3D printing methods.
While the WirePrint process was created to aid designers and engineers, it looks like it could be easily assimilated into 3D printing artists tool boxes and I’m kind of curious what they can do with it. I’m sure we’ll get a Yoda head at some point, there is always a Yoda head. But I think some talented artists are going to create some really cool prints with it.
Not only does the process save valuable design time, but it uses significantly less 3D printing material than a regular print, so you’re saving quite a bit of money as well.