Press Archive

SDSC's Telemanufacturing Facility Advances Scientific Visualization Research

Published 06/05/1995

Researchers at SDSC's telemanufacturing facility (TMF) have integrated rapid prototyping technology with scientific visualization to produce three-dimensional (3D) solid models from digital geometry data. A solid model gives a researcher a different perspective on a scientific 3D data set that complements the insight made possible from a computer graphics display.

Principal investigator Mike Bailey, an SDSC scientific visualization researcher and professor in the Applied Mechanics and Engineering Sciences (AMES) Department at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and co-principal-investigator Ramesh Jain, of UCSD's advanced manufacturing program, established the TMF at SDSC in February 1995 with a $1-million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The TMF consists of a Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM) device that the researchers connected to the Internet for remote use.

The first such experiment with this device--the construction of a model of the San Diego Bay from digital geometry data supplied by SDSC computational biologist John Helly and SDSC visualization researcher T. Todd Elvins--was completed in March 1995. The data set consisted of 125,000 triangular polygons that were converted into a solid prototype to serve as a study tool for ecologists and oceanographers.

"The TMF project represents the first time this technology has been promoted aggressively as a standard tool for scientific visualization research," says Bailey. Prior to the TMF project, access to this technology typically was restricted to the manufacturing domain in which mechanical designers use rapid prototyping technology to generate solid models of mechanical parts to determine the geometry and, to some extent, the functionality of the part before it is manufactured.

Bailey and his students have used the LOM to construct prototype parts in an surprisingly short period of time. He recently transformed a complex geometry file from Cubic Corporation into an engineering part in less than two days. Says Bailey, "We look forward to working with Cubic to use this technology to improve its approach to design and prototyping."

Bailey and Jain plan to test this technology for applications in areas as diverse as manufacturing, medical imaging, topography mapping, surgical planning, and cell and protein structure research.

Bailey will also develop an interface for manufacturing 3D models based on slice data, which will allow researchers to turn medical scan data into physical prototypes. This work will build on the collaboration between SDSC and the San Diego Microscopy and Imaging Resource in the Collaboratory for Microscopic Digital Anatomy, an NSF-sponsored National Challenge project that is helping develop the technology underlying the National Information Infrastructure.

Two students are working on this project: Dru Clark, a former student in Bailey's AMES 293 graphics class who is participating in the NSF-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates program at SDSC, and Craig Jackson, who recently entered UCSD's new advanced manufacturing program.

For more information about the TMF on the World Wide Web, refer to .

The San Diego Supercomputer Center, a national laboratory for computational science and engineering, is sponsored by the National Science Foundation, administered by General Atomics, and affiliated with the University of California at San Diego. For additional information, refer to SDSC's World Wide Web server at, or contact Ann Redelfs, 619-534-5032, 619-534-5113 fax,

For more information, contact
Mike Bailey
San Diego Supercomputer Center
619-534-5113 (FAX)