Worst-case structural analysis

Qingnan Zhou, Julian Panetta, Denis Zorin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Direct digital manufacturing is a set of rapidly evolving technologies that provide easy ways to manufacture highly customized and unique products. The development pipeline for such products is radically different from the conventional manufacturing pipeline: 3D geometric models are designed by users often with little or no manufacturing experience, and sent directly to the printer. Structural analysis on the user side with conventional tools is often unfeasible as it requires specialized training and software. Trial-anderror, the most common approach, is time-consuming and expensive. We present a method that would identify structural problems in objects designed for 3D printing based on geometry and material properties only, without specific assumptions on loads and manual load setup. We solve a constrained optimization problem to determine the "worst" load distribution for a shape that will cause high local stress or large deformations. While in its general form this optimization has a prohibitively high computational cost, we demonstrate that an approximate method makes it possible to solve the problem rapidly for a broad range of printed models. We validate our method both computationally and experimentally and demonstrate that it has good predictive power for a number of diverse 3D printed shapes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number137
JournalACM Transactions on Graphics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2013


  • Digital manufacturing
  • Structural analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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