Computational Thermoforming

Christian Schüller, Daniele Panozzo, Anselm Grundhöfer, Henning Zimmer, , Olga Sorkine-Hornung

Computational Thermoforming

Our pipeline for producing plastic replicas of textured digital 3D models by computational thermoforming.


Differently from industrial techniques, which target mass production of a specific shape, we propose a combined hardware and software solution to manufacture customized, unique objects. Our method simulates the forming process and converts the texture of a given digital 3D model into a pre-distorted image that we transfer onto a plastic sheet. During thermoforming, the sheet deforms to create a faithful physical replica of the digital model. Our hardware setup uses off-the-shelf components and can be calibrated with an automatic algorithm that extracts the simulation parameters from a single calibration object produced by the same process.


accompanying video

blog/press articles


The authors thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions. We are grateful to Kaan Yücer, Vaclav Hnizda and Brian McWilliams for the help with the video and to Alessia Marra and Michael Rabinovich for the support with the 3D models. We would like to thank Bernhard Thomaszewski, Olga Diamanti, Peter Kaufmann and Wenzel Jakob for the insightful discussions and Mike Battersby of Fujifilm for his support and help with the plastic printing tests. Furthermore, we would like to thank Mirko Meboldt and the staff of the Raplab D-Arch ETHZ for the free access and help with the thermoforming machines and equipment. This work was supported in part by the ERC grant iModel (StG-2012-306877) and by a gift from Adobe Research.