A new method of hollowing rapid prototype models based on STL models and their cross‐sectional contours is presented to meet the demands of hollowed prototypes in casting and rapid prototype manufacturing. Offsetting along the Z‐axis and cross‐sectional contour offsetting are employed to perform the hollowing operation. The process performs two‐dimensional Boolean operations on the polygons made by the offset contours of cross‐sectional contours instead of three‐dimensional offsetting of the STL models. This hollowing operation is especially suitable for hollowing STL models with free‐form surfaces. Detailed algorithms are described to generate the correct offset contours of an STL model. Adopting this method, the hollowing process is dramatically simplified and becomes more efficient. This method has been verified by practical case studies, and it is proved that this simplified hollowing operation can reduce the prototype build time and cost.
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