More Stiffness with Less Fiber: End-to-End Fiber Path Optimization for 3D-Printed Composites

Xingyuan Sun, Geoffrey Roeder, Tianju Xue, Ryan P. Adams, Szymon Rusinkiewicz

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


In 3D printing, stiff fibers (e.g., carbon fiber) can reinforce thermoplastic polymers with limited stiffness. However, existing commercial digital manufacturing software only provides a few simple fiber layout algorithms, which solely use the geometry of the shape. In this work, we build an automated fiber path planning algorithm that maximizes the stiffness of a 3D print given specified external loads. We formalize this as an optimization problem: an objective function is designed to measure the stiffness of the object while regularizing certain properties of fiber paths (e.g., smoothness). To initialize each fiber path, we use finite element analysis to calculate the stress field on the object and greedily "walk"in the direction of the stress field. We then apply a gradient-based optimization algorithm that uses the adjoint method to calculate the gradient of stiffness with respect to fiber layout. We compare our approach, in both simulation and real-world experiments, to three baselines: (1) concentric fiber rings generated by Eiger, a leading digital manufacturing software package developed by Markforged, (2) greedy extraction on the simulated stress field (i.e., our method without optimization), and (3) the greedy algorithm on a fiber orientation field calculated by smoothing the simulated stress fields. The results show that objects with fiber paths generated by our algorithm achieve greater stiffness while using less fiber than the baselines - our algorithm improves the Pareto frontier of object stiffness as a function of fiber usage. Ablation studies show that the smoothing regularizer is needed for feasible fiber paths and stability of optimization, and multi-resolution optimization helps reduce the running time compared to single-resolution optimization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings - SCF 2023
Subtitle of host publication8th Annual ACM Symposium on Computational Fabrication
EditorsStephen N. Spencer
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
ISBN (Electronic)9798400703195
StatePublished - Oct 8 2023
Event8th Annual ACM Symposium on Computational Fabrication, SCF 2023 - New York, United States
Duration: Oct 8 2023Oct 10 2023

Publication series

NameProceedings - SCF 2023: 8th Annual ACM Symposium on Computational Fabrication


Conference8th Annual ACM Symposium on Computational Fabrication, SCF 2023
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityNew York

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics
  • General Materials Science


  • 3D Printing
  • Continuous Fiber
  • End-to-End Differentiable
  • Optimization
  • Path Planning


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