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PREFORM EXPERIENCE DESIGN:
Merging hardware and software in an undefined field.

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PREFORM EXPERIENCE DESIGN:
Merging hardware and software in an undefined field.

Onsite user visits; we were often delighted by the functional objects our users produced with our device.

Onsite user visits; we were often delighted by the functional objects our users produced with our device.

 

"We really like the surface finish, but for some reason the system keeps failing."

- Tesla Engineering

Developing a new style of 3D printing involves upending expectations and interfaces between users, products and hardware. 3D printing was a largely unexplored field, and Formlabs was faced with the challenge of simplifying an industrial process for novice users seeking an "it just works" experience. Shortly after joining Formlabs I took on the task of interviewing users and crafting product improvements across the digital and physical product.


 
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Writing about UI Process


In collaboration with the engineering team, we crafted an alternative printing flow. With the goal of gently guiding the user, we wireframed out each interaction. The end result allowed us to eliminate redundant dialogs, while adding a more engaging, animated launch bar.

Writing about UI Process


In collaboration with the engineering team, we crafted an alternative printing flow. With the goal of gently guiding the user, we wireframed out each interaction. The end result allowed us to eliminate redundant dialogs, while adding a more engaging, animated launch bar.

Launch bar out of the the Engineering Gravity Well

The new launch bar (highlight in blue) as a checklist, linking directly to live action video demonstrating the proper interaction with the printer.  

The new launch bar (highlight in blue) as a checklist, linking directly to live action video demonstrating the proper interaction with the printer.  

 
An example of the worst preexisting redundancy. Quite unsurprisingly, people didn't appreciate having to read a lot of fine print.

An example of the worst preexisting redundancy. Quite unsurprisingly, people didn't appreciate having to read a lot of fine print.

 

Early on, we saw sophisticated users like Tesla and GE aerospace experiencing repeated failures. Under the assumption that our consumer-friendly printer would be maintenance free, they ignored the manuals and repetitive popup dialogs (Engineers fall prey to this overconfidence quite often). By building a launch bar with quick links to implied actions, we were able to reduce CS tickets and self-serve visits to our support articles spiked by over 300%. 

We like to think about this as an example of agile engineering - shipping the minimum product and engaging users to upgrade and "patch" the hardware through improved software, guidance and UI. This ship first strategy is particularly effective when there are experienced, dedicated users excited about exploring a new technology. They can be quite vocal about you're strengths and shortcomings, but following up on the feedback helps to quickly iterate on a product in short order. 

 

 

The Grammar of Detatchment

A common complaint amongst our users was the difficulty in separating supports from the build platform of the machine. Through sequential trials we evolved a repeating construct that would provide mechanical advantage for part removal.  The end results were considered a significant enough advancement in the field to patent. 

The "crystal" caves feature is visible in the grey raft structure.

The "crystal" caves feature is visible in the grey raft structure.

 
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Ultimately a new generation of tools was designed, easing the task further.

Ultimately a new generation of tools was designed, easing the task further.

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Hero Image


Working on the original, high-resolution desktop 3D printer was an opportunity to explore entirely new interfaces. I was fortunate to be able to contribute to a world class experience, along with an incredibly talented team of engineers and developers.

Hero Image


Working on the original, high-resolution desktop 3D printer was an opportunity to explore entirely new interfaces. I was fortunate to be able to contribute to a world class experience, along with an incredibly talented team of engineers and developers.