The lab off ... Design Engineering

Zjenja Doubrovski and Argun Cencen testing the limits of 3D technology. (Photo: Sam Rentmeester)
Zjenja Doubrovski and Argun Cencen testing the limits of 3D technology. (Photo: Sam Rentmeester)

How should designers work to get the most out of 3D printing? What kind of software, tools and knowledge do they need for this new manufacturing process? How should one design a workflow that includes robot-human interactions? Are robots freaking awesome? These are just some of the questions, which are currently being answered in the Department of Design Engineering’s Foundation Lab. 

Their research on digital manufacturing takes technology and looks at it from a different perspective, from the industrial design perspective. The goal here is not to develop new technology but rather develop the methods with which this technology is used. In the lab these questions are approached through real design projects which test the limits of the technology to analyse the process of use.

One such project examines the benefits of 3D printing in the creation and customization of a saxophone mouth piece. By adjusting the internal geometry of the mouthpiece you can drastically alter the sound it produces. “This customization gives musicians the ability to create their own distinct sounds” explains PhD candidate Zjenja Doubrovski from Russia. Traditional milling production made these forms impossible to create but 3D printing offers few limitations on shape, so customization becomes relatively cheap.

In his work on design support for human robot coproduction, PhD candidate Argun Cencen from Turkey is also looking at the implementation of emerging technology for industrial designers. While most researchers approach these developments from a technological perspective, he is looking at the process of use. The goal is to achieve the level of a human-human interaction between robots and humans. Working with their very own robot, Baxter, Cencen evaluates human robot interaction and communication. Baxter uses facial expressions to convey his ability to complete tasks and provide feedback for the user. “When you are teaching him something he might look like he is concentrating or if he cannot find what he is looking for he may have a confused facial expression” says Argun Cencen.