Inspired by the history of the user interface for personal computing, we are developing new interaction models for personal fabrication. Today, 3D printers are operated similar to how computers were operated in the 1960s: Users first create an input, then wait overnight, and only in the next morning they can test the result. If users make a mistake, they have to repeat—potentially taking many days to produce a working solution. Since the feedback is so much delayed, the process is limited to expert users because users need to know what they are doing in order to succeed. In the same way early computers were limited to expert users, 3D printers today are limited to expert users only. With our research we show that by repeating the evolution of the user interface from personal computing (batch-processing, turn-taking, direct manipulation) for personal fabrication, we are working towards a future in which everyone will be able to create physical content as easily as users create and edit digital content today.
If you would like to contact us about our work, please scroll down to the people section and click on one of the group leads' people pages, where you can reach out to them directly.