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Machine handles & communication

Many students learn how to use fabrication machinery each year. Visual noise litters these heritage machines, with little attention to hierarchy and differentiation that helps build learned associations between machine areas and operations. After my own experiences and observations of students struggling to adopt the cognitive load associated with machining, I sought to improve the learning process of manual machining.

After some observational and generative research with students, I focused on the control handles as a common contact point. As I began to understand how user mental models were created (rotational movement linear movement, manual zero-ing, etc.), it guided my design of a new series of replaceable machine handles. These can be added to old and expensive machines to improve user learning through visual communication, form, and haptic methods. Incorporating vibrational mechanical feedback in one direction, an asymmetrical dial, color coding of the axes, and variable grip geometries between axes help build lasting connections between hand feel and axial reference.

Role - Project Lead

Timeframe - 2022

Part of Products Studio IV: Designing Products for Social Systems

at Carnegie Mellon University

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