Building the General-purpose Factory

Friday, February 19, 2016 - 1:25pm - 2:25pm
Lind 305
Haldean Brown (Plethora)

The last decade has seen the popularization of many prototyping technologies, bringing fabrication methods like 3D printing and laser cutting to the masses with easy-to-use user interfaces, fast turnaround and low prices. Many traditional methods of manufacturing have not benefitted from the same improvements, but are still an essential part of the prototyping process for engineers around the world. Plethora is attempting to bring the same feeling of effortlessness to these tried and true methods; we are doing so by building a factory that is powered by software systems, capable of automatically manufacturing parts using processes that can guarantee high accuracy and quick turnaround.

In this talk, I will give an overview of the problems that the Computational Geometry team has solved in the process of creating a system that is capable of automatic manufacturing using CNC mills with minimal human involvement. These problems range from P to NP-hard, and from optimal graph traversal to complex surface approximation.

Haldean Brown is a Senior Computational Geometer at Plethora, and leads Plethora’s Toolpath team, which develops the software that takes a 3D model and outputs instructions for Plethora’s factory. Prior to Plethora, he worked at Google on the Android Wear operating system and on Android at Home, a connected home project. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Columbia University, where he conducted undergraduate research in the Columbia Computer Graphics Group.