Novel Representations and Workflows for Personal Fabrication

Matt Keeter, MIT Center For Bits and Atoms


It was a sunny Monday afternoon, and I was trying to summon Cthulhu.

Not the full-size eldrich abomination — that would be irresponsible. I was trying to print out a small model downloaded from Thingiverse, and it was not going well.

The model looked good on my laptop screen but wasn’t suitable for printing, a problem that will sound familiar to anyone working in the field. It had zero-area faces, incomplete topology, and normals pointing in the wrong direction. The model was a nonsensical description of a real, physical object.

This document discusses ongoing research into improved workflows and interfaces for computer-aided design and manufacturing. These workflows are based on volumetric representation of solid objects, which eliminate many of the usual pain points of digital fabrication. Continue reading

Design Tools for the Rest of Us: Maker Hardware Requires Maker Software

Ryan Schmidt, Autodesk Research
Matt Ratto, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto

The evolution of computing is in large part driven by the development of novel hardware capabilities, which can only be fully exploited by new types of software interfaces. This is particularly evident in the early history of digital fabrication, where the development of CNC machines at MIT lead to an interest in Computer-Aided Design (CAD) tools, essentially to “create content” for this new hardware. Sutherland’s seminal SketchPad system [Sutherland63] – and hence the first Graphical User Interface – was one of the fruits of this endeavour.
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A Personal Design Manifesto

Jan Borchers, René Bohne
RWTH Aachen University

Personal fabrication technology has opened up the potential for personal design: a radical change in how we may design, fabricate, and distribute physical objects for personal use. However, the user interface of digital object design tools is currently blocking wider adoption of personal design. We propose a starting point for a Personal Design Manifesto that expresses this problem, proposes approaches to solutions, and shows how our discipline of HCI can contribute. We expect some of our claims to closely match the spirit of our budding community, while others will hopefully be the subject of lively discussion. We hope that these can lead to a manifesto representing and helping to grown our community. We close with VisiCut, FabScan and FabCenter as three examples of ongoing projects that provide points in the resulting space of design and research approaches.

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Reviewing submissions.

We received 23 submissions to the workshop, including a lot of great topics from a variety of researchers. We’re reviewing them now and will send notifications by the 1st of February.

Thanks to everyone who submitted!



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).