Hasso-Plattner-InstitutSDG am HPI
Hasso-Plattner-InstitutDSG am HPI

Robert Kovacs

„Human-Scale Personal Fabrication“

The availability of commercial 3D printers and matching 3D design software has allowed a wide range of users to create physical prototypes – as long as these objects are not larger than hand-size. However, when attempting to create larger, "human-scale" objects, such as furniture, not only are these machines too small, but also the commonly used 3D design software are not equipped to design with forces in mind—since forces increase disproportionately with scale.

In this thesis, we present a series ofend-to-end fabrication software systemsthat support users increating human-scale objects. They achieve this by providing three mainfunctionsthat regular "small-scale"3D printing software does not offer (1) subdivision of the object into small printable components combined with ready-made objects. (2) editing based on predefined elements sturdy enough for larger scale, i.e., trusses, and (3) functionality for analyzing, detecting, and fixing structural weaknesses. The presented software systems also assist the fabrication process based on either 3D printing or steel welding technology.

Our systems first provide solutions for fabricating static load-bearing objects, then mechanisms that involve motion — kinematic installations, and finally to designing mechanisms with dynamic movement, where energy-circulation plays an important role.

We demonstrate the validity of our approach by building and testing human-scale prototypes, ranging from furniture pieces, pavilions, to animatronic installations and playground equipment. We have also shared our system with schools, fablabs, and fabrication enthusiasts, who have successfully created human-scale objects that can deal with human-scale forces.