Disney Research


Computational Design of Rubber Balloons-Image
Given a target shape (a), we use experimentally-acquired material properties (b) to compute and fabricate an optimal balloon shape (c). Upon inflation, the optimized balloon closely approximates the target (d), whereas inflating a small version of the target (e) results in poor approximation.


This paper presents an automatic process for fabrication-oriented design of custom-shaped rubber balloons. We cast computational balloon design as an inverse problem: given a target shape, we compute an optimal balloon that, when inflated, approximates the target as closely as possible. To solve this problem numerically, we propose a novel physics-driven shape optimization method, which combines physical simulation of inflatable elastic membranes with a dedicated constrained optimization algorithm. We validate our approach by fabricating balloons designed with our method and comparing their inflated shapes to the results predicted by simulation. An extensive set of manufactured sample balloons demonstrates the shape diversity that can be achieved by our method.

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