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The democratization of 3D printing technology is changing the way we build and share physical prototypes. As desktop 3D printers have become affordable and accessible, makers and hobbyists are able to download a digital design online and fabricate a physical model at home with low cost. Although replicating an existing design is straightforward, creating and prototyping a model from scratch is still a challenging task for the majority of people. One existing challenge for prototyping 3D models is the long delay between creating a 3D digital model to having the physical instantiation at hand. The gap between the 3D design and fabrication makes it difficult for the user to contextualize the 3D digital model in the real physical environment. The user has no physical feedback at the early design stage, and a small mistake in the digital model can lead to a significant delay in the design iteration cycle. In this dissertation, we explore an alternative design-fabrication pipeline, where design and fabrication happen in-parallel. We build three working prototypes to demonstrate that the new design-fabrication workflow can offer users fast feedback during the early design activity and can promote a reflective design experience. The D-Coil prototype offers a fully hands-on physical building experience for 3D digital modeling. It targets novice, requires no CAD experience, and can offer immediate physical feedback. On-the-Fly Print targets CAD modelers. It offers CAD modelers a way to quickly access physical prints of a model while it is designed on the screen. The fast physical feedback can allow the designer to compare the model to the real physical environment, even before the digital design is finished. RoMA combines the advantages of both D-Coil and On-the-Fly Print. With RoMA, the designer is located next to a robotic 3D printer. Design and fabrication happen in the same place and at the same time. The designer can design in-situ, and use partially printed physical model to support the next design step. A user study of RoMA confirms that the early physical feedback and the in-parallel design-fabrication concept can promote a reflective design activity and offer a better early 3D modeling experience. The thesis concludes with a discussion of the benefits and drawbacks of the proposed design-fabrication workflow and its design implications for future fabrication system design.

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Information science


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Guimbretiere, Francois V.

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Marschner, Stephen Robert
Jung, Malte

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Information Science

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Ph.D., Information Science

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Doctor of Philosophy

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dissertation or thesis

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