Support-free volume printing by multi-axis motion

Chengkai Dai, Charlie C.L. Wang*, Chenming Wu, Sylvain Lefebre, Guoxin Fang, Yong-Jin Liu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

125 Citations (Scopus)
428 Downloads (Pure)


This paper presents a new method to fabricate 3D models on a robotic printing system equipped with multi-axis motion. Materials are accumulated inside the volume along curved tool-paths so that the need of supporting structures can be tremendously reduced - if not completely abandoned - on all models. Our strategy to tackle the challenge of tool-path planning for multi-axis 3D printing is to perform two successive decompositions, first volume-to-surfaces and then surfaces-to-curves. The volume-to-surfaces decomposition is achieved by optimizing a scalar field within the volume that represents the fabrication sequence. The field is constrained such that its isovalues represent curved layers that are supported from below, and present a convex surface affording for collision-free navigation of the printer head. After extracting all curved layers, the surfaces-to-curves decomposition covers them with tool-paths while taking into account constraints from the robotic printing system. Our method successfully generates tool-paths for 3D printing models with large overhangs and high-genus topology. We fabricated several challenging cases on our robotic platform to verify and demonstrate its capabilities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number134
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalACM Transactions on Graphics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Accepted author manuscript


  • 3D printing
  • Multi-axis motion
  • Supporting structures
  • Tool-path generation


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