Generating Energy Transmission Properties in Voxel Data Structures Using Texture Maps for Additive Manufacturing

Technology #34374

Key Points

  • Method of making a more optically accurate 3D-printed model of a photo-realistic virtual model
  • Uses existing texturing and 3D modeling programs to generate complex voxel (volumetric pixel) structures, including optical waveguides and other structures that could alter the physical attributes of a 3D-printed part
  • Characterizes voxels (volumetric pixels) for polyjet printed objects


University of Central Florida researchers have invented an additive manufacturing process that allows a 3D-printed object to reflect the texture characteristics of a photo-realistic 3D model more accurately. Current technologies do not provide a system or process for a designer to specify and print underlying properties (including colors and textures) of a voxel system to achieve realistic transfers and bounces of light in a 3D printed object.

As a solution, the UCF invention allows customization of underlying optical properties within and at the surface of a voxel data structure. It consists of a system and methods of generating optical properties for a voxel data structure via texture maps generated using any PBR (physics-based rendering) creation tool or image editing tool. The texture mapping can include a combination of texture types. Examples of maps include albedo (diffuse) maps, roughness (microsurface) maps, metallic texture (metalness) maps and subsurface scattering (luminance) maps to reflect accurate texture characteristics in a manufactured object.

Technical Details

The method follows a procedural approach toward optically characterizing a subsurface scattering of light to generate a mixture of optically opaque and transparent materials. One step includes generating a virtual 3D model of an object. An analysis of the model includes dividing it into surface voxels and subsurface voxels to calculate a color map and a texture map using a PBR engine. The maps enable accurate color and material selections from a database to create a spectrum of colors and textures from the surface of the virtual model through the center point of the model. Finally, an additive manufacturing machine receives instructions to print the 3D object with the selected textures and materials.

Partnering Opportunity

The research team is looking for partners to develop the technology further for commercialization.

Stage of Development

Prototype available.


  • Allows for intricate customization of the underlying color and texture properties of manufactured objects
  • Improves the 3D-printed accuracy of 3D-rendered models in terms of the following:
    • Microsurface quality (roughness to the smoothness of the surface)

    • Subsurface scattering of light throughout an object

    • Metallic to nonmetallic properties
  • Uses existing production art to characterize voxels for polyjet printed objects

Market Application

  • Manufacturing waveform guides that conform to specific 3D shapes for various industries
  • Computational systems within 3D-printed objects
  • Animation
  • Movie industry props
  • Moulage for medical trainingArchitectural models