The Road to Ubiquitous Personal Fabrication: Modeling-Free Instead of Increasingly Simple

by   Evgeny Stemasov, et al.

The tools for personal digital fabrication (DF) are on the verge of reaching mass-adoption beyond technology enthusiasts, empowering consumers to fabricate personalized artifacts. We argue that to achieve similar outreach and impact as personal computing, personal fabrication research may have to venture beyond ever-simpler interfaces for creation, toward lowest-effort workflows for remixing. We surveyed novice-friendly DF workflows from the perspective of HCI. Through this survey, we found two distinct approaches for this challenge: 1) simplifying expert modeling tools (AutoCAD → Tinkercad) and 2) enriching tools not involving primitive-based modeling with powerful customization (e.g., Thingiverse). Drawing parallel to content creation domains such as photography, we argue that the bulk of content is created via remixing (2). In this article, we argue that to be able to include the majority of the population in DF, research should embrace omission of workflow steps, shifting toward automation, remixing, and templates, instead of modeling from the ground up.


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