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Articulated deformable characters are widespread in computer animation. Unfortunately, we lack methods for their automatic fabrication using modern additive manufacturing (AM) technologies. We propose a method that takes a skinned mesh as input, then estimates a fabricatable single-material model that approximates the 3D kinematics of the corresponding virtual articulated character in a piecewise linear manner. We first extract a set of potential joint locations. From this set, together with optional, user-specified range constraints, we then estimate mechanical friction joints that satisfy inter-joint non-penetration and other fabrication constraints. To avoid brittle joint designs, we place joint centers on an approximate medial axis representation of the input geometry, and maximize each joint's minimal cross-sectional area. We provide several demonstrations, manufactured as single, assembled pieces using 3D printers.

Authors: M. Bächer, B. Bickel, D. L. James, H. Pfister

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