The design dilemma

Yesterday, I wrote about Sketch Your Furniture by Front. A concept demo for an innovative 3D design user interface. One of the challenges for 3D printing and co-creation is, that 3D design software is hard to use. They have a steep learning curve and it is certainly not easy to create something.

It takes patience and determination to get these software packages under control, and make something meaningful. To be honest, people are not really interested in learning this kind of software. Even if they do, I do not think they will spend a few hours on designing a spare part of a gift. Even if we assume they would like to design themselves most people are not designers.

In short, you could summarize:

  • people do not want to spend the effort to design
  • people do not want to learn to design
  • people cannot design

I call this the design dilemma of Co-Creation and 3D Printing.

So what are the solutions?

Fortunately there are solutions. I see the following developments in these area to overcome the design dilemma:

  • Product Configurators — the user gets a fixed set of choices, and based on their answers a design is created. For example DriveWorks Pro.
  • Templated Design — the user modifies a template design using a fixed set of modifiers (stamping, scaling, text, etc.). Examples are the Shapeways Light Poem or Kelecrea for Android.
  • Co-design — a user works together with a designer to create their design. For example Grabcad offers this service.

These solutions bring together users and designers, and use software to ease and scale the design process — either through a marketplace or design creation automation.

In an earlier post, I wrote about a design meta language. It is one of the enablers to further improve software automation options. The design dilemma is a solvable solution, and this very important reason for the growth of 3D printing.