Interactive Surface Design with Interlocking Elements


Melina Skouras (Disney Research Zurich, ETH Zurich, MIT Casil)
Stelian Coros (Disney Research Zurich, Carnegie Mellon University)
Eitan Grinspun (Columbia University)
Bernhard Thomaszewski (Disney Research Zurich)


October 26, 2015

Interactive Surface Design with Interlocking Elements-Image

We present an interactive tool for designing physical surfaces made from flexible interlocking quadrilateral elements of a single size and shape. With the element shape fixed, the design task becomes one of finding a discrete structure—i.e., element connectivity and binary orientations—that leads to a desired geometry. In order to address this challenging problem of combinatorial geometry, we propose a forward modeling tool that allows the user to interactively explore the space of feasible designs. Paralleling principles from conventional modeling software, our approach leverages a library of base shapes that can be instantiated, combined, and extended using two fundamental operations: merging and extrusion. In order to assist the user in building the designs, we furthermore propose a method to automatically generate assembly instructions. We demonstrate the versatility of our method by creating a diverse set of digital and physical examples that can serve as personalized lamps or decorative items.

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