The New 3D Data Format FAV

Technology used in 3D printers has been rapidly evolving in recent years. Today, there are even 3D printers capable of representing complex internal structures of three-dimensional objects, printing in full color, or using different materials in combination.

Fuji Xerox, in a joint research effort with Japan's Keio University, has researched and created FAV, the world's firstNote 1 3D printing data format able to retain complex information.

Conventional 3D printing data formats come with several limitations—for example, they lack the ability to describe an object's internal structure or to retain information on the colors or materials used to print objects. These existing formats also involve many steps, including troublesome intermediate processing for data conversion as well as the work required to recover data that was corrupted during processing.
To address these issues, Fuji Xerox, in collaboration with the Keio Research Institute at Shonan-Fujisawa Campus (SFC), has researched and created FAV, a new voxel-basedNote 2 data format. FAVNote 3 enables users to freely model and control complicated internal structures and attributes, thus expanding the range of expression that is possible through 3D printers. The FAV format also makes it possible to eliminate troublesome data conversion processing during the flow of 3D data, enabling a workflow that is consistent from start (input/creation of 3D data) to finish (printing).
The specifications of the newly developed FAV format are now being released here as an open format. Fuji Xerox plans to work on proposals to make FAV the de facto standard, and together with our customers, we hope realize a more advanced manufacturing environment taking full advantage of 3D printers.

Specifications of the FAV1.1a 3D data format released here [PDF: 1.44MB]

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Complex internal structures of objects can be designed, enhancing the range of expression of 3D printers

The FAV format expresses 3D data in the form of voxels (the three-dimensional equivalent of pixels) arranged three-dimensionally. For each voxel, users can define various attribute values, including color information (RGB, CMYK, etc.) and material information (ABS, nylon, etc.). Users can also control the relationships (e.g., connection strength) between different voxels. With this data format, it is possible for users to design three-dimensional objects with a high degree of freedom—for example, creating designs with multiple materials (e.g., harder and softer materials) that are minutely distributed among one another or designs with finely intertwined internal structures.

Conceptual diagram showing voxels arranged three-dimensionallyFig. 1: Conceptual diagram showing voxels arranged three-dimensionally

The FAV format is able to retain information on internal structure, color information, and material informationFig. 2: The FAV format is able to retain information on internal structure, color information, and material information.

Perform simulations on voxel data as-is and easily modify the 3D data to reflect the simulation results

The FAV data format also allows voxel data to be used as-is for physical simulations, such as simulations of object deformation due to external forces. Users are then able to easily modify the design of a three-dimensional object based on the results of these simulations. For example, after performing a physical simulation on voxel data, users can redesign areas that had high amounts of distortion, making changes in the materials used or adding structural modifications.
It is also possible to use the attributes that are defined for each voxel, including the connection strength between neighboring voxels, for applications such as making design changes to achieve a desired strength or optimizing a design for 3D printing.

Simulations can be performed on voxel data as-is, and designs can be modified to reflect simulation resultsFig. 3: Simulations can be performed on voxel data as-is, and designs can be modified to reflect simulation results.

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  • Note 1 The first 3D data format in the world to be able to retain not only information on the surface of a 3D model but also information on internal structures, colors, materials, and connection strength.
  • Note 2 Voxel: A basic element of 3D data. Voxels are used to express three-dimensional objects in the same way as pixels are used to express two-dimensional images.
  • Note 3 FAV (abbreviation for "fabricatable voxel"): a new voxel-based data format proposed by Fuji Xerox and Keio University in collaboration.
  • Note This research is also a product of the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology's COI (Center of Innovation) project "Center of Kansei-oriented Digital Fabrication," for which Keio University serves as a central base. The aim of this project is to achieve a society in which anyone can easily manufacture items using 3D printers.