While CAD systems have been immensely beneficial they require specialist knowledge and expertise for their operation, particularly where advanced modelling, simulation and analysis (virtual prototyping) is to be used. This requirement, combined with their dependence upon 2D digital interaction limits user engagement, constrains design process activities and restricts design performance. This includes the nature and level of collaboration and co-creation within design teams, with users and wider stakeholders; the accessibility of virtual prototyping tools including rapid prototyping; and the efficacy of the design (team) when undertaking tasks, such as ideation, design development, evaluation and DfX activities.
To overcome these restrictions, the concept of a Lego-inspired tangible interface for CAD, virtual prototyping (VP) and rapid prototyping (RP) is to be investigated. The corresponding research programme comprises two interrelated research streams. The first addresses the technical and HCI challenges associated with the creation of real-time physical-to-digital model integration and user-in-the-loop digital-to-physical model integration. Both of these topics offer significant future research opportunities in their own right. The second research stream concerns investigation of the affordances, complementarity (with VP tools) and limitations of a Lego-inspired tangible interface for improving collaboration/co-creation, design performance and accessibility to VP and RP.
Given the exploratory nature of the research three engineering domains will be considered: industrial design (assistive technology), special purpose machinery and construction.
More information can be found here.
The potential benefits of coupling LEGO and FDM printing in a hybrid prototyping have been shown through idealised simulations, however it needs to be feasible and practical to implement for it to be a useful approach to prototyping. This figure illustrates in 2D how a design can be prototyped out of LEGO and FDM printed […]
Brixelate and Kitify are two Blender addons written in Python that help designers create physical, editable versions of their designs. Check out the video below to see them in action. Brixelate Brixelate takes an 3D object and packs it full of LEGO bricks. The type of LEGO bricks used can be changed, as well as […]
Using physical objects when prototyping has enormous benefits and affords tangibility and presence that are lacking from digital files. However creating prototypes takes time and money, this project is investigating how construction kits and additive manufacture can be combined to add flexibility and reconfigurability into this process. Project Lead: David Mathias