User perspective on AM-enabled mass customisation toolkits
2017-07-03T10:28:13Z (GMT) by
Mass Customisation (MC) toolkits are powerful user interfaces that enable customers to engage in the design of their own products. This research follows design research methodology (integrated with design process) to research the user perspective on AM-enabled MC toolkits. This research proposes and validates a design framework to guide designers and software developers in designing a user-centred AM-enabled MC toolkits, enabled using digital fabrication technologies such as Additive Manufacturing (AM). This framework includes pre-implementation assessment, and implementation stages. An initial literature review revealed a lack of standard or universal norms for these user interfaces, and a lack of consistency in their design, in which web objects such as logo, product image, prices, etc. are not shared commonly among toolkits, nor occupy a frequent position. Furthermore, an optimum number of degree of freedom for MC toolkits is lacking from current design knowledge. This research focuses on AM-enabled Mass Customisation toolkits as a means to enable customers design; its concentration is on users. A first quantitative study was conducted to compare and rank of a collection of features. More detailed user requirements regarding the content and layout of MC toolkits were revealed in a workshop. As a part of the second study, four different CAD systems (software programs and 3D-enabling libraries) were used to create MC toolkits. This provided an understanding of the pros and cons of each system, and demonstrated Three.js to be the best system amongst each one s feasibility and application. Based on previous findings, and as a part of the UX-design process, a prototype web-based MC toolkit was constructed, utilising the Three.js library. The prototype was used for a second study as a platform to investigate, the user interaction and usability of the toolkit, to validate the toolkit design as well as provide insights for its improvement. Findings and reflections from all the studies were then visualised and communicated in an interactive design framework. A final study, conducted with professional users (N=4) assessed the usability and technicality of the framework tool and led to a number of suggested improvements. The main contributions to knowledge are: 1- a table was produced to compare the features of four different system, by which Three.js was identified as the most suitable among them 2- most important and expected features for the content were obtained from the user rankings, most frequent location of features for the layout was identified based on the users, and user insights were reflected based on the evaluation of the prototype 3- the UI needs to be flexible in term of degrees of freedom, in another words, each customer (novice or professional) is able to adjust the number of options presented. 4- a framework was proposed through reviewing and adapting existing guidelines and findings from this research.