Workshop Motivation

Personal fabrication devices, such as 3D printers, allow users to create customized objects. While the topic of manufacturing has a long history in industry, the decreasing costs of 3D printers now also allow home-users to fabricate their own objects, opening up a new mass market. This comes with new research challenges, especially from a Human Computer Interaction perspective, as it is unclear how traditional industrial technologies are approached and understood by new audiences with a diverse range of goals and expertise.

Since 2012, human computer interaction researchers tackle this challenge by: developing new prototyping environments that abstract domain knowledge, thereby allowing users to build increasingly complex objects (e.g. Sauron [20]); moving the creation process from the digital environment to the physical environment, thereby allowing for hands-on editing (Interactive Fabrication [23], Smart Handheld Tools [25], Tactum [8]); speeding up fabrication so that faster design iteration becomes possible (e.g. Low-fidelity Fabrication [16]); exploring the role fabrication technologies play within expressive craft and meaning-making activities (Being the Machine) [7]; and exploring novel fabrication processes, such as printing soft materials (layered-fabric printer [18]), e.g. for wearable interfaces.

first row: Sauron [20], Interactive Fabrication[23], Low-fidelity Fabrication [16], layered-fabric printer [18], second row: Smart Handheld Tools [25], Being the Machine [7], Tactum [8]).

In 2013, a first workshop on personal fabrication at CHI called FAB at CHI [14] helped bring together HCI researchers that started the field. This first workshop helped framing personal fabrication research in the context of HCI. A similar small-scale workshop PerFab[12] was held later that year at Ubicomb’13.

These workshops have fulfilled their goals: personal fabrication is now an established sub-discipline within HCI with more and more researchers joining the field every year. To foster further growth, it is now time to broaden the field by reaching out to related disciplines in personal fabrication, such as computer graphics, robotics, art, architecture, and materials. This list is not exhaustive and we are welcoming researchers from other disciplines to join the workshop as well.

Inspired by interdisciplinary workshops outside of CHI, such as The New Making Renaissance: Programmable Matter and Things [6] and Computational Aspects of Fabrication [1], we have put together a one-day workshop program to form connections across disciplines that can give rise to future collaborations.

Related Disciplines in Personal Fabrication

Personal Fabrication is a hot topic in many different disciplines. Our workshop will offer insights and perspectives from the following fields:

Computer graphics: A main focus in graphics research has been to support users in predicting physical behavior, such as preventing thin parts from breaking (Stress relief [21]), and by providing users with feedback on dynamic behavior (Pteromys [22]). Graphics researchers also looked at how to convert animated digital characters into their mechanical counterparts by automatically generating the driving mechanisms from gears and linkages [5]. Finally, graphic researchers have worked on simulating different materials using a single material (meta-materials [4]).

left: detecting weak parts [21], middle: mechanical characters [5], right: meta-materials [4].

Architecture & Robotics: With a main focus on large-scale fabrication, research in architecture has explored many novel fabrication tools, processes, and materials. Within architecture, robots that are repurposed as fabrication tools play a major role. For instance, Minibuilders [15] are moving printing robots that address the question how to build artifacts that are larger than the printing volume (e.g. to print entire houses as suggested in contour crafting [11]). Architecture researchers also recently started to investigate how to interactively construct together with a robot [9]. In addition, architecture is also experimenting with novel printing materials, such as cement [24] for large-scale extrusion.

left: contour-crafting [11], middle: mini-builders [15], right: fabrication of gestural form [9].

Art: Artists engage in fabrication in several different ways blurring the distinctions between art, craft, and design. Some artists create fabrication systems to augment their existing practices with new digitally informed capabilities (Hektor [13], SolarSinter [10]). Within such work, the movements of the machine and contexts of fabrication take on increasing role for the meaning of the artwork. Artistic explorations also provide cultural and political perspectives on fabrication practice. For instance, Allahyari’s 3D printed replicas of the artifacts destroyed by ISIS present 3D printing as a form of “resistance and documentation” [1].

left: Hektor [10], middle/right: SolarSinter [4] sand and sun.

Material Science: With only a small number of 3D printable materials being available today, material scientists are working on expanding what can be printed. For instance, Lewis et al. research on printing conductive material [1] has lead to the first commercially available conductive 3D printer. In a completely different direction, material scientists in biology are working on how to print tissue or even entire organs [16].

left: printing conductive silver ink [2], right: bio-printing tissue.

Workshop Goals and Outcomes

By inviting researchers from each discipline, we hope to build an interdisciplinary network of researchers. Our goal is to use the workshop as a platform to learn about each other’s work—the challenges, tools and techniques being used. We believe that joining the forces in such interdisciplinary work is a key to moving the field of personal fabrication forward.


  1. Morehshin Allahyari. Material Speculation: ISIS. 2015.
  2. Bok Yeop Ahn, Steven B. Walker, Scott C. Slimmer, Analisa Russo, Ashley Gupta, Eric B. Duoss, Thomas F. Malkowski, and Jennifer A. Lewis. Planar and Three-Dimensional Printing of Conductive Inks. Journal of Visualized Experiments 58 (e3189): 1-8, 2011.
  3. Marc Alexa, Bernd Bickel, Sara McMains, and Holly E. Rushmeier. Computational Aspects of Fabrication. Dagstuhl Reports 4, 8, 126-150, 2014.
  4. Bernd Bickel, Moritz Bächer, Miguel A. Otaduy, Hyunho Richard Lee, Hanspeter Pfister, Markus Gross, and Wojciech Matusik. Design and fabrication of materials with desired deformation behavior. ACM Trans. Graph. 29, 4, 63, 2010.
  5. Stelian Coros, Bernhard Thomaszewski, Gioacchino Noris, Shinjiro Sueda, Moira Forberg, Robert W. Sumner, Wojciech Matusik, and Bernd Bickel. Computational design of mechanical characters. ACM Trans. Graph. 32, 4, 83, 2013.
  6. David Culler, James Landay, Prabal Dutta, and Eric Paulos. The New Making Renaissance: Programmable Matter and Things. Computing Visions 2025. Computing Community Consortium (CCC), 2014.
  7. Laura Devendorf, Kimiko Ryokai. Being the Machine: Reconfiguring Agency and Control in Hybrid Fabrication. In Proc. CHI ’15, 2477-2486.
  8. Madeline Gannon, Tovi Grossman, and George Fitzmaurice. Tactum: A Skin-Centric Approach to Digital Design and Fabrication. In Proc. CHI ’15, 1779-1788.
  9. Ryan Luke Johns. Augmented Reality and the Fabrication of Gestural Form. ROB ARCH 2012.
  10. Markus Kayser. SolarSinter. 2010.
  11. Behrokh Kjoshnevis. Automated Construction By Contour Crafting. Journal of Automation in Construction, 13, 1, 5-19, 2004.
  12. Manfred Lau, Christian Weichel, and Nicolas Villar. 2013. Workshop on personal and pervasive fabrication (PerFab 2013). In Proc. UbiComp ’13 Adjunct, 939-944.
  13. Jurg Lehni. Hektor. 2002.
  14. David Mellis, Sean Follmer, Björn Hartmann, Leah Buechley, and Mark D. Gross. 2013. FAB at CHI: digital fabrication tools, design, and community. In CHI ’13 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI EA ’13), 3307-3310.
  15. Minibuilders,
  16. Stefanie Mueller and Patrick Baudisch. Low-Fidelity Fabrication: Speeding up Design Iteration of 3D Objects. In Proc. CHI EA ’15, 327-330.
  17. Sean V. Murphy, A. Atala. 3D bioprinting of tissues and organs. Nature Biotechnology 32, 773–785, 2014.
  18. Huaishu Peng, Jennifer Mankoff, Scott E. Hudson, and James McCann. 2015. A Layered Fabric 3D Printer for Soft Interactive Objects. In Proc. CHI ’15, 1789-1798.
  19. Romain Prévost, Emily Whiting, Sylvain Lefebvre, and Olga Sorkine-Hornung. Make it stand: balancing shapes for 3D fabrication.
  20. Valkyrie Savage, Colin Chang, and Björn Hartmann. Sauron: embedded single-camera sensing of printed physical user interfaces. In Proc. UIST ’13, 447-456.
  21. Ondrej Stava, Juraj Vanek, Bedrich Benes, Nathan Carr, and Radomír Měch. Stress relief: improving structural strength of 3D printable objects. ACM Trans. Graph. 31, 4, 48, 2012.
  22. Nobuyuki Umetani, Yuki Koyama, Ryan Schmidt, and Takeo Igarashi. Pteromys: interactive design and optimization of free-formed free-flight model airplanes. ACM Trans. Graph. 33, 4, 65, 2014.
  23. Karl D.D. Willis, Cheng Xu, Kuan-Ju Wu, Golan Levin, Mark D. Gross. Interactive fabrication: new interfaces for digital fabrication. In Proc. TEI ’11.
  24. Jan Willmann, Fabio Gramazio, Matthias Kohler, Silke Langenberg. Digital by Material: Envisioning an Extended Performative Materiality in the Digital Age of Architecture. Rob ARCH 2012.
  25. Amit Zoran et al. The Wise Chisel: The Rise of the Smart Handheld Tool. IEEE Pervasive Computing, 13, 3, 48-57, 2014.



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