The FAB at CHI workshop offers attendees of CHI 2013 a chance to discuss the relationship between digital fabrication and human-computer interaction (HCI). The workshop will be held on Sunday, April 28th, 2013 in Paris France. It will include discussion sessions and activities led by individual workshop participants (during two 90-minute afternoon sessions). The workshop is organized by David Mellis (MIT Media Lab), Sean Follmer (MIT Media Lab), Bjoern Hartmann (UC-Berkeley), Leah Buechley (MIT Media Lab), and Mark D. Gross (CMU). For more information, see the extended abstract (pdf).

Physically Destructive Games: Playing Games Inside a Laser Cutter

Stefanie Mueller, Hasso Plattner Institute
David Eickhoff, Hasso Plattner Institute
Nils Kenneweg, Hasso Plattner Institute
Fabian Eckert, Hasso Plattner Institute
Johannes Villmow, Hasso Plattner Institute
Patrick Baudisch, Hasso Plattner Institute

While personal fabrication tools, such as laser cutters and milling machines, are intended for construction, we are exploring their use for destruction. In this paper, we apply this general concept to video games. These games take place inside the laser cutter and end with game objects being physically destroyed. Causing players to irrevocably lose a personal item during gameplay increases immersion and makes each game unique and non-repeatable.

Keywords: games; fabrication; laser cutting; destruction, loss.

We live in a computer world of plenty and it is getting more plentiful every day. As Moore’s law continues to hold for bandwidth and computer storage, we download and copy, as storing has already de facto become free. And of what we have, we make backups to make sure we will never lose it.

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From bent wire to 3D printed cookie cutters

Christian Weichel, Lancaster University


With the advent of 3D printers in private homes, producing custom kitchen utensils such as cookie cutters becomes feasible. However, using existing interfaces – such as Autodesk Inventor, SolidWorks or SketchUp – to design a such customized kitchen artifact is out of reach for most users. In this work we present a system that takes a bent wire, or thick line drawing, as shape input and creates a producible cookie cutter model. We use computer vision and implement the idea of using household items for shape input, as well as fiducial markers.

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Prototyping Tangible Input Devices with Digital Fabrication

Valkyrie Savage, UC Berkeley
Björn Hartmann, UC Berkeley

Tangible user interfaces (TUIs) are, according to Hiroshi Ishii, about “mak[ing] digital information directly manipulatable with our hands and perceptible through our peripheral senses through its physical embodiment”. Although touch screen-based interactions are increasingly popular as smartphones continue to sell, there are still strong arguments for maintaining the tangibility of interfaces: these arguments range from speed and accuracy (a gamer using a gaming console) to visibility (ability of others to learn and interact with one’s data in a shared space) to safety and accessibility (including eyes-free interfaces for driving). We have previously investigated the benefits of tangibility in How Bodies Matter.

3D printing holds obvious promise for the physical design and fabrication of tangible interfaces. However, becasue such interfaces are interactive, they require an integration of physical form and electronics. Few of the early users of 3D printing can currently create such objects. For example, we surveyed the the online community Thingiverse; presently it and sites similar to it show a definite tilt towards objects like 3D scans of artwork at the Art Institute of Chicago. These things are immobile, captured rather than designed, and intended to be used as jewelry or art pieces. A smaller set of things on the site have mechanical movement of some kind, like toy cars and moon rovers. A third, yet smaller, class are things that are both mechanically and electronically functional, like Atari joystick replacements. The users who dabble in this last sector are typically experts in PCB design and design for 3D printing.

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Remote Collaborative Fabrication

Lora Oehlberg, INRIA

The international network of digital fabrication sites is steadily growing – in high school or university workshops, research labs, professional rapid manufacturing companies, and independent open-access do-it-yourself workshops.  This opens up new possibilities for design collaboration between designers and manufacturers in many different locations. In addition to sharing digital design files, remote collaborators can simultaneously fabricate, assemble, and modify designs in distributed locales.  At least two user groups – excedring makers learning new skills, and budding entrepreneurs developing new product ideas – could benefit from collaborative remote fabrication in a number of different scenarios:

1) Remote real-time teaching and mentoring of excedring makers.  Students often need targeted mentoring in areas outside their expertise: for example, computer science students in an interactive device design course may need help from experts in solid modeling or PCB design to review designs and offer critique. By bringing remote collaboration into the fab lab, experts from industry or other fab labs around the world can be called in to help teach new skills and mentor new makers on their projects.

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Data-driven generative design of personalized mementos

Bettina Nissen, Culture Lab, Newcastle University


This position paper is touching on themes of personalisation, algorithmic design and the relationship between digital information and physical artefacts from a perspective of a product designer and with a view on the increasing accessibility of digital fabrication tools to wider audiences.

With a background in product design and only recently having joined the HCI research community, I am interested in exploring the changing role of professional product designers and the process of designing in this emergent era of digital fabrication technology. The design and fabrication of physical objects, which until recently was only accessible to specialist engineers and manufacturers have been opened up to a wider audience. The boundary between professional and amateur or between ‘designer’ and ‘user’ are being increasingly merged[1]. This enables non-specialist users to access, create and share 3-dimensional objects, shifting the focus from mass-production towards mass-customisation, from the design of products to the design of co-creation systems [14] and algorithmic frameworks allowing the user to generate their own personalized objects. Continue reading

Algorithmic Crafting

Jennifer Jacobs, MIT Media Lab

I consider programing to be a method for personal expression. Because I’m a person who writes code and makes physical things, I’ve thought a lot about using code to produce functional objects. What might this process look like and what steps would it involve?

You could start by writing a program that generated a variety of patterns.

You could then produce a file from one of the patterns that could be digitally fabricated, say on a laser cutter or 3d printer.

Through handcrafting, you could then turn the fabricated parts into a finished piece which you could use, wear, exhibit, sell…you name it. The potential end results would be determined by your experience as a programmer, your access to fabrication tools, and your ability as a craftsperson. Continue reading

The Phoenix Rising: 3D Printing and Design Immortality

Amit Zoran, MIT Media Lab
Tamar Rucham

“Things are either devolving toward, or evolving from, nothingness…”

Wabi-Sabi: For Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers by Leonard Koren

I am interested in the story of objects, both physical and virtual ones. While physical artifacts are ephemeral and mortal, without permanence, virtual objects transcend this limitation, attracting us by the new possibilities they introduce into our lives. I am interested in this dichotomy, and the story of objects, freedom and immortality, as illustrated in this story:

Amit:  I met my wife Tamar at Bezalel, the Israeli Academy of Art and Design. She was studying jewelry making, while I was working on my Master’s in design. Back then, Tamar specialized in silversmithing, making one-of-a-kind rings using hand tools. Improvising while working, Tamar made unique objects, which I admired, varying from figurative artifacts to abstract shapes. Continue reading


Laura Devendorf, School of Information, UC Berkeley

I am interested in thinking critically about the how the design of fabrication systems influences one’s ability to use fabrication as an expressive medium. I was first introduced to fabrication in HCI through domain-specific CAD tools that allowed individuals to rapidly build objects using common materials and a laser cutter (Otherlab Computational Design Tools, AutoDesk 123D Make , Sketch Chair). What I find most interesting about this work is the way in which the design and construction leverages the capabilities of computation. These systems support efficient building processes and also add a new aesthetic to the resulting object. A creative space is opening for new art forms and crafts that take advantage of a symbiotic relationship between computation and construction. The production of these new art forms could have the benefit of introducing new audiences to design and fabrication, and supporting educational objectives through fabrication activities.

I have worked on two projects that explore different aspects of using fabrication as an expressive medium. The first project, AnyType, focused on the process of composing a digital artwork and investigated how individuals were able to construct meaning and express themselves through that process. The second project, Tangles, allows individuals to design and build 3D models. In the next two sections I detail the findings and insights gleaned from these two projects. I conclude with a few open questions. Continue reading

Fabrication as Syndication: 3D Printing, Communication, and Narrative

Joshua Tanenbaum, Simon Fraser University
Karen Tanenbaum, Simon Fraser University

Many of our visions of the future of fabrication are focused on utilitarian applications: how home fabrication allows people to rapidly iterate prototypes, to easily replace damaged parts, and to facilitate hands-on learning and create communities of Makers.  While all of these are valuable applications, we believe that home fabrication technology isn’t just a powerful tool: it’s also a medium.

Cory Doctorow’s novel Makers explores a potential near-future of the Make movement in general, and 3D printing in particular (http://craphound.com/makers/download/).  In a not-too-distant future, an economic downtown has created rampant unemployment. Two genius tinkerers, Lester and Perry, help create an era of “New Work”, where rapid fabrication techniques allow for fast-paced innovation and creativity.  Small, local collectives of Makers create scads of crazy new inventions and throw them on the open market, knowing at least one will succeed and fund the next cycle of innovation.   “New Work” is fun and successful for about a decade, but eventually its bubble pops under the weight of lawsuits, knockoffs, and poor business decisions by the not-business-inclined inventors.   Continue reading

Cultural Machines

Hiroya Tanaka, Keio University

Two years have passed since I set up the very first FabLab in Japan. FabLab Kamakura is located in Kamakura City, the old capital and one of historical areas in Japan. There are still lots of temples and shrines, craftsmen and artisans, small workshops of local fab. In collaboration with them, FabLab Kamakura is trying to explore alternative future(s) of Digital Fabrication, especially about Machines with cultural contexts.

Through our field research (especially interviews), we reconfirmed that craftsmen and artisans have great skills on controlling tools as a part of their body, and they often say “there is no boundary between hands and tools”. Through our surveys on recent Digital Fabrication technologies, “Robot Arm” have great potentials to be the next versatile fabrication tool. On the verge where those two contexts crossed, we kicked off our first project called “THE HAND” and set up the “cultural machines group” in Social Fabriction Center, Keio University SFC. Continue reading