New Rapid Prototyping Technologies for Creative Ideation


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  • Introduce presenter, general area of research and the working title of this project that involves three Master thesis at ITESM
  • Designers portray their decision-making process in diagrams like this: from abstract to concept to development, where ambiguity and uncertainty are progressively reduced… we are interested in this process, particularly in the tools that designers use to transition between point A and B. So here is a brief story…
  • Our designer “D” is hired to generate a creative idea that is expected to become an innovative product/service/system. D is handed a “brief” with some information, but is told that “the sky is the limit”
  • Of course, D panics at first as he faces the “blank page”…
  • After all, generating ideas is D’s job, but it is never easy…
  • D starts looking for ways to initiate the flow of ideas: sources of inspiration, market and user data, competitors, technologies, etc…
  • But as we said, it is never easy –even for D- to generate new ideas
  • But D is a professional, so somehow, he starts imagining possible ways of approaching the problem, interpreting the brief, synthesising ideas…
  • Sure enough, after a while, D starts generating ideas (one or one million, not an issue for our story)
  • Now, D knows that an idea is something ephemeral, and needs to be “captured”. D needs a way (a few? many ways?) to represent ideas. But how to proceed?
  • D went to design school and has years of professional experience, so D knows lots of ways to represent ideas.
  • These tools are part of the “normal skill” (in IP jargon), the disciplinary paradigms (in history of science), or the “tools of the trade”; they are also largely D’s own personal selection, skill, preference and circumstances.
  • But today D is inreflective mode, and is wondering what is the importance of choosing one representation over another? D usually does this automatically, based on intuition and experience, but today D wonders…
  • Today D is puzzled by a question: “How does the representation of my idea influence the idea itself?”
  • So D takes some time off (designers love to procrastinate) to read what design researchers have been doing about representations in the design process… They seem to agree overall that the process includes 2D and 3D representations that support more-to-less ambiguity and differ from autographic (own) to allographic (public) images. Taxonomies usually focus on the representation’s features (rather than their functional properties)
  • But, as we said, D is an experienced designer and knows that the process is less structured than it may seem to a researcher. Often, D jumps from napkin sketches to 3D digital models or to a quick prototype to test a fundamental mechanism, or D goes back and forth between different types of sketches, drawings and models and prototypes.
  • So, again, D is puzzled not only by the types of representations available in the design process, but also by the flow between representations. What is the impact of this “chain” of representations in the “chain” or sequence of ideas. Is the evolution of an idea influenced by its representations?
  • D also learns that these tools are OLD, and the way they are used hasn’t changed for centuries (even if today there are digital versions). Part of the reason may be that things work pretty well the way they are, but surely this deserves more attention… and sketching/drawing is indeed ‘drawing’ massive attention in recent years. What about 3D representations?
  • Mark Evans (both an experienced D and a researcher), together with other scholars, has helped clarify some of the differences between representing an idea in 2D or 3D. This has very fundamental implications, because it suggests that the transition between 2D and 3D still carries a good deal of uncertainty and ambiguity. Important design decisions are made in 3D, based on feedback that this “not apparent” or accessible in 2D.
  • Sketching is extremely important, but 3D physical models are no less important for some key decisions in design… So how would D know when/how to move from 2D to 3D (or vice-versa)? Again, D has done this a million times, but it has never occurred to D that this is a strategic decision and may (or may not) have a crucial impact in D’s ideas.
  • Like every representation, not all models are equal. Depending on scale, materials, time, resources, etc. designers work with a range of models. Typically, the early models are still very much hand-made with conventional materials and techniques (foam, cardboard, balsa wood, scrap materials available)
  • So, back to D, here we see D’s idea evolving from an ambiguous abstract idea to a concept and a fully specified in detail solution. Let’s see what technologies are available in this process…
  • In 2D, a range of tablets exist including some very sophisticated hardware-software combinations; hand sketches are also usually digitised and combined with the long list of CAD and photo editing + rendering tools. The research pipeline in this domain is also quite extensive. On the other hand, RP technologies are (finally) becoming widespread and capturing information from physical models is also a popular area of research and technology development. However, important as it is, the transition between 2D and 3D has remained overlooked by researchers…
  • Most 3D technologies today (RP, CNC…) are focused on either adding or subtracting material (layer by layer construction or milling). By definition, these are time-consuming operations, usually expensive, generate waste and are very “final” (it is usually hard to add/remove material once the material is shaped). But transforming materials is more flexible, reversible, and rapid
  • One way to approach this opportunity is to look into a material that is flexible, cheap, and easy to transform either by machine and/or hand. Wire is an interesting material because is it itself a “transitional” material between dimensions (2D and 3D). So we setup a number of studies…
  • At ITESM, a 3D wire-bending machine was (slowly) developed and (simultaneously)studied systematically as a tool to assist in the 2D-3D transition of ideas: Estefania Juarez (2010), Diana Bonilla (2011) and Juan José Navarro (2012) havestudiedtheadequacy of 3D wireframing as a designtool, transitionstrategiesbetween 3D wireframing and 3D surface/solidmodels, and themodels of interaction of thedesignteam (design + engineering) with a 3D wireframing machine.
  • Estefania analysed the range of geo/topological transformations that last-year design students apply during a design project
  • Estefania also systematically compared the process and the output across a group of design students using three types of materials: solid (clay), surface (paper) and wireframe (wire) concluding that wire does enable an increase in the number and diversity of ideas generated.
  • Juan Jose used the wirebending machine to study the impact of building 3D wireframes during the ideation stage of the design process involving both industrial designers and engineers.
  • Juan Jose found ten modes of interacting with the wirebender that are appropriate for the design process across different stages of ideation, including two CAD-less modes of interaction (joystick direct manipulation –and simultaneous digital capturing, and
  • A library of pre-defined shapes and transformation operations to support the “conversation with the representation” characterised by Schön
  • Trajectory selection
  • Parts assembly
  • Digital arm or scanner as input (copy mode)
  • 2.5D format including post-bending by the user
  • Shape exploration using shape grammars
  • “Beautification” of shapes
  • Naturally, wire bending is nothing new. What is unprecedented is its integration into the design process
  • The trend is to form multi-disciplinary ideation teams; and co-design (participatory) methods… what does this mean for the problem of representation?
  • New Rapid Prototyping Technologies for Creative Ideation

    1. 1. Ricardo Sosa, PhDAssistant Professor Representation New Rapid Prototyping Technologies for Creative Ideation
    2. 2. Design Process
    3. 3. Ideate!D
    4. 4. D
    5. 5. D
    6. 6. D
    7. 7. D
    8. 8. D
    9. 9. D
    10. 10. Must represent idea…D
    11. 11. D
    12. 12. How does the representation of my idea influence the idea itself? And how does it affect the next idea in the “train of thought”?D
    13. 13. decision-making sketches drawings modelstime prototypes
    14. 14. decision-making sketches drawings modelstime prototypes
    15. 15. decision-making sketches drawings models Dtime prototypes
    16. 16. sketches drawings "Designers in the twenty-first century continue to use study drawings much as architects did in the fifteenth"Daniel M. Herbert “Architectural Study Drawings” Van Nostrand Publishers 1993
    17. 17. sketches drawings"Being able to hold, move, and look inside a product concept can reveal discrepancies and possibilities not apparent whilst sketching in two dimensions."Mark Evans “Model or prototype which, when and why?” IDATER Conference, Loughborough University 1992
    18. 18. decision-making sketches drawings modelstime prototypes
    19. 19. sketches decision-making drawingsmodels “sketch models or 3D sketches” prototypestime
    20. 20. D
    21. 21. D
    22. 22. Subtraction Addition Transformation
    23. 23.
    24. 24. http://www.pensanyc.com
    25. 25. D E M U
    26. 26. Future• Usability studies• Ideation (individuals and groups)• Complete cycle: reverse input (physical to digital)• Implement 10 control/interaction modes• Refine and improve surface/solid post- processing• Proof of Concept (NRF)