HCII Thesis Proposal: "Personal 3D Printing: Material Techniques and Processes for Human Interaction and Use"

Michael Rivera

Tuesday, June 2, 2020 - 1:30pm to 3:00pm
Streaming via Zoom: https://cmu.zoom.us/j/96280751218 Meeting ID: 962 8075 1218Virtual via Zoom

Scott E. Hudson (HCII), Chair

Lining Yao (HCII)

Jeffrey P. Bigham (HCII)

Stefanie Mueller (MIT EECS)

Additive manufacturing (3D printing) has the potential to transform the way we make almost everything. With kits now costing less than $150, 3D printers are rapidly finding their way into the homes of consumers and small businesses. Yet, the vision of making any object that fits our preferences and needs has not been realized due to limitations in the technology.

Current processes primarily produce rigid objects, typically made of plastic. However, for many human uses, we rely on many different properties (e.g. strength, elasticity, texture) to meet our structural, functional and aesthetic needs. We wake up leaving warm blankets and soft sheets behind. We sit in chairs with sturdy backs and comfortable seats. Moreover, most consumer-goods, and particularly interactive objects, cannot be made with one material---they consist of many materials that may be hard, soft or conductive. Unlocking the full potential of 3D printing for human use requires meeting these diverse material needs.

In this thesis proposal, I first discuss the various approaches that prior efforts have taken to expand the design space of 3D printing for human interaction and use. Through the lens of properties, I identify opportunities to meet these diverse human needs, and present new techniques and processes to address them.

In the work completed thus far, I have examined embedding textiles, the most prevalent material in our daily lives, into personal 3D printing processes. Their many properties, including flexibility, absorbency, and texture, broaden the design space of 3D printing and can support new interactive modalities such as water-responsive interfaces. Building on these efforts, I have modified a consumer 3D printer to fabricate textiles directly using melt electrospinning---an approach that produces both rigid plastic and textiles while supporting computational control of the textiles’ structural and functional properties. These properties can create interactive objects that sense pressure, diffuse light, and offer soft tactile experiences.

The proposed work for completing this thesis continues developing new techniques and processes, but focuses on environmental properties and sustainability. The first work examines reuse and biodegradability in new printable materials that are made from existing waste (e.g. spent coffee grounds). The goal is to demonstrate that such materials can create objects that serve functional and aesthetic purposes while being more ecologically-friendly than typical plastic filaments. The second work explores using embedded materials with 3D printing to capture energy from everyday interactions through the triboelectric effect. With customized mechanisms, existing objects such as door handles can support their primary functional purpose while producing usable energy from friction and contact. As a whole, the materials and properties introduced in this thesis work enable personal 3D printing to meet a wider range of human needs and applications.

Queenie Kravitz