Alex Lobos, Felipe Castaneda and Stan Rickel
Rochester Institute of Technology / Makerbot


Throughout history, there is a noted reciprocity between tools and artifacts. Technology has become a tool for both the exploration and production of and its means and self-expression. Unlike earlier industrial production and market models, it is now feasible that we, the designer, engineer, manufacturer, and consumer can become collaborators in the creation of the narrative and the experiences it ensues if we so choose. 

Technology has become an integral part of the graduate “studio” experience and has advanced the dynamic interaction of students in understanding, discussing and analyzing design concepts. A collaborative project between an industrial design graduate studio and two industry leaders, one in CAD software and the other one in 3D printing, is described in this paper and used as a model workflow. This collaboration highlights the high value of tangible assets (3D prints) when evaluating design concepts. It is a wonderful thing to watch students teaching students, faculty, and industry on technology processes known or discovered (printing, software) and, in turn, taking ownership of both their processes and their designs. 

The result is a design process that provides flexibility and integration of technologies as ways to expand the exploration of potential solutions in both breadth and depth. This workflow is a novel example of how technology benefits efficiency and relevance of design education and practice.