I have always been drawn to hobbies/skills that make me work in a tactile sense. It’s what drove me to focus on graphic design and software engineering during undergrad.
I like to think I have a decent grasp on things when it comes to understanding how components fit together and how systems work together to accomplish a task. However, previously working with physical material such as fabric or Arduino circuits, I know I don’t have much understanding of physical prototyping.
What I enjoy about creative practices is how they make you think in different ways and see your craft with a more nuanced perspective and, even thought this was somewhat of a simple project, it’s making me excited for what I’ll know one this class is over.
Starting out, I found Tinkercad to feel somewhat like second nature to me. I’m pretty experienced with graphic design tools like Illustrator so playing with shapes to form objects is a familiar space to me.
I’m wondering what the learning curve for 3D rendering is going forward. If my experience with Adobe Creative Suite is any indicator, I’ll have to spend a lot of time with the software to understand just how the tools work.
Going into the actual fabrication part of the project I was honestly fairly lost. I was able to draw parallels between the physical creation process and my software engineering experience, but I really felt like I lost my bearings working with the new tools.
I was particularly afraid of messing up the setup for the laser cutter. Working with physical material intimidates me a lot more than other materials I’ve worked with because I can’t Ctrl+Z mistakes.
However, once I got into the cutting process it become much easier for me to understand what was happening and become a bit more confident with it. Granted, I’d be lying I could repeat the process step-by-step the next time I use it. I’m just less nervous approaching the tool.
The 3D printer was a lot more approachable for me. I still felt like I had no clue what I was doing, but I really think that was just beginner’s anxiety.
The steps seemed to flow together and starting the actual print was very straight forward. It felt like there was variables to mess up with the printer compared to the laser cutter.
Granted, I had to reformat my file because I had both pieces saved in one document making it impossible to rotate in Ultimaker. However, I feel much more confident repeating this process compared to the laser cutter.
What really fascinated me about this project was just how flexible physical fabrication allows a designer to be. I’m prone to watching a lot of blacksmithing videos on YouTube and what really blows me away about those craftsmen is that will just forge a tool they know they need for a project while working on the other artifact.
Having tacit knowledge of physical fabrication really lends itself for a designer to be able to own their craft. I’m just thinking about future design projects I’ll be working on and how this will be an efficient way to test hypotheses.
I’m excited to see how I will tie this into my UX design process going forward.