/Assembly-aware Design of Printable Electromechanical Devices

Assembly-aware Design of Printable Electromechanical Devices

Ruta Desai, James McCann and Stelian Coros
Conference Paper, 31st ACM User Interface Software and Technology Symposium, October, 2018

Download Publication (PDF)

Copyright notice: This material is presented to ensure timely dissemination of scholarly and technical work. Copyright and all rights therein are retained by authors or by other copyright holders. All persons copying this information are expected to adhere to the terms and constraints invoked by each author’s copyright. These works may not be reposted without the explicit permission of the copyright holder.


From smart toys and household appliances to personal robots, electromechanical devices play an increasingly important role in our daily lives. Rather than relying on gadgets that are mass-produced, our goal is to enable casual users to custom design such devices based on their own needs and preferences. To this end, we present a computational design system that leverages the power of digital fabrication and the emergence of affordable electronics such as sensors and microcontrollers. The input to our system consists of a 3D representation of the desired device’s shape, and a set of user-preferred off-the-shelf components. Based on this input, our method generates an optimized, 3D printable enclosure that can house the required components. To create these designs automatically, we formalize a new spatio-temporal model that captures the entire assembly process, including the placement of the components within the device, mounting structures and attachment strategies, the order in which components must be inserted, and collision-free assembly paths. Using this model as a technical core, we then leverage engineering design guidelines and efficient numerical techniques to optimize device designs. In a user study, which also highlights the challenges of designing such devices, we find our system to be effective in reducing the entry barriers faced by casual users in creating such devices. We further demonstrate the versatility of our approach by designing and fabricating three devices with diverse functionalities.

BibTeX Reference
author = {Ruta Desai and James McCann and Stelian Coros},
title = {Assembly-aware Design of Printable Electromechanical Devices},
booktitle = {31st ACM User Interface Software and Technology Symposium},
year = {2018},
month = {October},
publisher = {ACM},
keywords = {Computational Design; Digital Fabrication; Optimization},