William Kempton Living Prototypes – Digital fabrication and user-centered product development

Digital fabrication technologies such as 3D printing are surrounded by strongly marketed claims and discourses from a range of disciplines. From economy perspectives emphasising peer-production and local manufacturing, marketing perspectives of personalization and mass-customisation, to educational views on craft-centric literacies. In engineering disciplines, the discourse on Additive Manufacturing (AM) are often centred around topics of optimisation and material knowledge. We argue that product design practise, having a long-standing tradition for understanding user needs and motivation, may challenge and further develop these discourses.

Two central issues which will be addressed in the thesis are a.) How can product design practise contribute to the discourse on digital fabrication, and b.) How may we apply explorative product design practise to develop and investigate new theories for product development.

This article-based thesis project specifically investigates the developing use of 3D printing from the perspective of Product Design and product development. It looks at how expert, non-expert designers and makers are shaping new making processes, from a traditional New Product Development perspective towards user-oriented product development.

The project is linked to a lab with over 15 years of product design based inquiry into AM, and seeks to elaborate on the theoretical models that have been developed through the lab.

Institute of Design / Steinar Killi (Supervisor)

PhD started in 2014