Makers' Marks: Physical Markup for Designing and Fabricating Functional Objects

Valkyrie Savage, Sean Follmer, Jingyi Li, Bjoern Hartmann
ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (2015)


To fabricate functional objects, designers create assemblies combining existing parts (e.g., mechanical hinges, electronic components) with custom-designed geometry (e.g., enclosures). Modeling complex assemblies is outside the reach of the growing number of novice “makers” with access to digital fabrication tools. We aim to allow makers to design and 3D print functional mechanical and electronic assemblies. Based on a formative exploration, we created Makers’ Marks, a system based on physically authoring assemblies with sculpting materials and annotation stickers. Makers physically sculpt the shape of an object and attach stickers to place existing parts or high-level features (such as parting lines). Our tool extracts the 3D pose of these annotations from a scan of the design, then synthesizes the geometry needed to support integrating desired parts using a library of clearance and mounting constraints. The resulting designs can then be easily 3D printed and assembled. Our approach enables easy creation of complex objects such as TUIs, and leverages physical materials for tangible manipulation and understanding scale. We validate our tool through several design examples: a custom game controller, an animated toy figure, a friendly baby monitor, and a hinged box with integrated alarm.