Meaning-Driven Customization

Saeide D. Mohammadi, Roozbeh Valamanesh, Liz Sanders
The Ohio State University, MakeTools


Saeide D. Mohammadi | Roozbeh Valamanesh
The Ohio State University
Liz Sanders

Recently we have been witnessing a new customization culture that is shaped through the emerging and ongoing development of new digital fabrication technologies. The technologies, such as 3D printers, enable designers to act independently from the mass manufacturing system and directly collaborate with end-users. The results are products that are developed according to a particular user’s needs and preferences. In this paper, a customization approach is proposed with the aim to help designers create more optimized custom products. The paper discusses how users’ anatomical and physiological characteristics along with emotional preferences can affect the functionality and efficiency of the product. Moreover, it describes how the proposed customization approach can impact the user’s perception towards a product or a category of products such as medical devices and enhance the user experience. The proposed approach is intuitively inspired by nature where all products are uniquely developed and highly customized. In the proposed approach, the designer first extracts the exact anatomical and physiological characteristics of user using related technologies such as portable 3D scanners. Then, this information is directly used to design and fabricate custom products that are highly matched with the individual user’s needs and limitations. Since the product is collaboratively designed and manufactured based on user emotional preferences, it can also significantly enhance the user emotional interaction with the product. However, it should be mentioned that this approach to customization cannot be currently applied to many types of products due to technology restrictions. It can be a practical solution when a need for a product such as medical device is discovered yet ignored by mass-manufacturers. It usually happens when the mass-production is not economically advantageous for manufacturers due to limited number of audiences. This customization approach also could lead to more sustainable consumption behavior and extend product longevity by increasing the user’s emotional attachment to the product.