We propose an approach to enabling exploratory creativity in digital fabrication through the use of grain spaces. In material processes, "grain" describes underlying physical properties like the orientation of cellulose fibers in wood that, in aggregate, affect fabrication concerns (such as directional cutting) and outcomes (such as axes of strength and visual effects).
Extending this into the realm of computational fabrication, grain spaces define a curated set of mid-level material properties as well as the underlying low-level fabrication processes needed to produce them. We specify a grain space for computational brioche knitting, use it to guide our production of a set of hybrid digital/physical tools to support quick and playful exploration of this space's unique design affordances, and reflect on the role of such tools in creative practice.
Laser cutting revolutionizes the creation of personal-fabricated prototypes. These objects can have transformable properties by adopting different materials and be interactive by integrating electronic circuits. However, circuits in laser-cut objects always have limited movements, which refrains laser cutting from achieving interactive prototypes with more complex movable functions like mechanisms. We propose MechCircuit, a design and fabrication pipeline for making mechanical-electronical objects with laser cutting. We leverage the neodymium magnet’s natures of magnetism and conductivity to integrate electronics and mechanical structure joints into prototypes. We conduct the evaluation to explore technological parameters and assess the practical feasibility of the fabrication pipeline. And we organized a user-observing workshop for non-expert users. Through the outcoming prototypes, the result demonstrates the feasibility of MechCircuit as a useful and inspiring prototyping method.
We present FlexBoard, an interaction prototyping platform that enables rapid prototyping with interactive components such as sensors, actuators and displays on curved and deformable objects. FlexBoard offers the rapid prototyping capabilities of traditional breadboards but is also flexible to conform to different shapes and materials. FlexBoard's bendability is enabled by replacing the rigid body of a breadboard with a flexible living hinge that holds the metal strips from a traditional breadboard while maintaining the standard pin spacing. In addition, FlexBoards are also shape-customizable as they can be cut to a specific length and joined together to form larger prototyping areas. We discuss FlexBoard's mechanical design and present a technical evaluation of its bendability, adhesion to curved and deformable surfaces, and holding force of electronic components. Finally, we show the usefulness of FlexBoard through 3 application scenarios with interactive textiles, curved tangible user interfaces, and VR.
4D printing encodes transformability over time, which empowers users to create artifacts by on-demand deformation. The creative process of 4D printing shape-changing artifacts can be challenging because of its discontinuous fabrication steps, such as digital designing, specific path planning, automatic printing and manual triggering. We hypothesize that switching from typical 4D printing reliant on 3D printers to a more “handcrafted” method can allow users to understand and continuously reflect upon the artifact and its transformability. Towards this vision, we introduce 4Doodle, a hybrid craft approach that integrates unique deformation controllability and five techniques for freehand 4D printing, using a 3D pen. To tackle the shape-changing challenges of uncertain hands-on fabrication, we develop a mixed reality system to help novices master the manual skills of 4D printing. We also demonstrate a series of 4D printed artifacts with fully human intervention. Finally, our user study shows that 4Doodle lowers the skill-acquisition barrier associated with handcrafting 4D printed artifacts, and it has great potential for creative production and spatial ability.
Personal fabrication has mostly focused on handheld tools as embodied extensions of the user, and machines like laser cutters and 3D printers automating parts of the process without intervention. Although interactive digital fabrication has been explored as a middle ground, existing systems have a fixed allocation of user intervention vs. machine autonomy, limiting flexibility, creativity, and improvisation. We explore a new class of devices that combine the desirable properties of a handheld tool and an autonomous fabrication robot, offering a continuum from manual and assisted to autonomous fabrication, with seamless mode transitions. We exemplify the concept of mixed-initiative physical sketching with a working robotic printer that can be handheld for free-hand sketching, can provide interactive assistance during sketching, or move about for computer-generated sketches. We present interaction techniques to seamlessly transition between modes, and sketching techniques benefitting from these transitions to, e.g., extend (upscale, repeat) or revisit (refine, color) sketches. Our evaluation with seven sketchers illustrates that RoboSketch successfully leverages each mode's strengths, and that mixed-initiative physical sketching makes computer-supported sketching more flexible.
The creativity support tools can enhance the hands-on multidisciplinary learning experience by drawing interest in the process of creating the outcome. We present AutomataStage, an AR-mediated creativity support tool for hands-on multidisciplinary learning. AutomataStage utilizes a video see-through interface to support the creation of Interactive Automata. The combination of building blocks and low-cost materials increases the expressiveness. The generative design method and one-to-one guide support the idea development process. It also provides a hardware see-through feature with which inside parts and circuits can be seen and an operational see-through feature that shows the operation in real-time. The visual programming method with a state transition diagram supports the iterative process during the creation process. A user study shows that AutomataStage enabled the students to create diverse Interactive Automata within 40-minute sessions. By creating Interactive Automata, the participants could learn the basic concepts of components. See-through features allowed active exploration with interest while integrating the components. We discuss the implications of hands-on tools with interactive and kinetic content beyond multidisciplinary learning.